I was never a picky eater growing up.
I try different foods every day of the week and am no longer grossed out by chicken livers or veal brains, and one day I’ll graduate from Cricket & Bat Soup University – just watch. I’ve already eaten turkey testicles. YEA. *beats my own chest, then gags*. But the first time I had sashimi on my 18th birthday, I almost vomited. Nobu Matsuhisa made me a STUNNING plate: with Yellowfin. Bluefin. THICK cuts, and that orange Kryptonite… Uni massive spoonfuls. Stuff you and I would DROOOL over today if we saw it overflowing the rice. Stuff that I could drop it in a pile of … and still eat– no shame. And in all my naiveté, I paid him respects by forcing it down my throat. Gonad after Gonad. If I could have glued the slimy orange, briny, salty sweet ice cream of sea urchin gonads to the sushi bar without anybody noticing, I would have. But ask me today and I’ll tell you I was crazy, so let’s pour some sake and let’s open some Urchins.
In the restaurants, I like Alaskan Uni the best, but even when it arrives here, it feels a bit jetlagged. Like fish sitting in the tanks for weeks with no food, swimming upside down, being sold as “live”. As my palate for Uni becomes more intelligent, I prefer not the Uni that resides next to the rocks (hoodlums), but the ones in the good neighborhoods. The Uni that lives with the overhanging trees, in forests of kelp & plush, lush, green environments where they eat good food like those acorn-eating pigs. (The ones not next to the healthy vegetation still taste fresh, but are bitter). Cause good food makes all the difference. Especially when you eat the seafood on the beach…(or better yet, while still treading water), just simply getting the natural taste without manipulation. Eating like this has become a thing of necessity, right up there with washing the car and putting underwear on in the morning. Try it. The Urchin on the beach. (And your underwear). Your first time is a spiritual moment to be enjoyed at the moment, in the moment, and remembered. You, alone (or maybe with somebody) on the rocks, gulping down Uni from shells, popping a bottle of Muscadelle & unabashedly tossing broken carcasses over your shoulder.
What could be better than that?
When I dive, I’m already conceptualizing what I’m going to do with the seafood. I think what a great dish the Uni can make, or the sea cucumber or the lobster. How about the scallop over here or do these slugs get eaten? Because of the access to this gifts of Nature, the way that I cook seafood is generally very simple. Get the best natural flavor out of your incredible ingredients. It’s a bit purist. But how about just some good salt, a bit of garlic, chili flakes, pepper and UNI that’s still moving atop that PastaMancini noodles. I know you’re saying f@ck u! I’m saying F@CK YEA!
Here’s one more dish I made from littleneck clams and calico bass. Instead of ceviche in red wine vinegar for 16 hours, this was a 2 hour lemon juice cooking time until just barely firm.
I drop the spear to collect some Uni . The ones by the Kelp taste better than these by the rocks. (target the black or red, not the lavender)
Sheepshead, Pile Perch, Scallop, Uni. Each Sea Urchin has 5 pieces of gonads. So when you watch the guy on Youtube ask him how he got 15 pieces of Uni. Oops he disabled comments 😛
i love to spoon uni.
mashed some uni into the sauce and put some more on top.
But want to know the best Uni dish bar none? Yes, that acorn-eating pig with the kelp-eating Uni.
Iberico Ham & Uni. #THEBESTTHINGIEVERATE