Uni Donburi

These are sea urchins:
They are spiky. They are messy. And…oh yeah…they require an incredibly delicate touch to prepare.
They are also known as uni, i.e. “butter of the sea”.
I dubbed it that…but I am totally correct.
Excellent Uni is the palest shade of persimmon, It is sweet, briny, creamy and  tastes of the sea, with the texture of pudding. 
Good uni isn’t even worth getting.
Bad uni is worth running away from in terror, unless you like a metallic, fishy taste and the texture and color of baby poop. 
Unfortunately, I know this firsthand.
Want to know how to open a sea urchin? Well, you have to poke a hole in the top, where the little “button” is…
Then cut off the top in a little hat!

Ta-da! Now you toss the hat away… 
Now drain the uni of its liquid (pardon the blurry photography),

And carefully remove the little orange sacs (yes, the animal’s gonads). I started out using chopsticks and ended using my hands. Be careful here – slow and steady. You want to keep as many little sacs whole as possible. Some will break, so don’t worry…you just want to keep the breakage minimal. And there will be black gunk coming out too. Don’t worry about that either.
You want to make sure to rinse the uni in a sieve under a VERY GENTLE stream of water, so as not to break the sacs. But you want to get rid of all the gunk. Then, you want to lay it on a plate or (preferably) a wooden surface that will draw the excess water out of the uni.
Now you really NEED a hit of citrus. I used a fabulous yuzu, which Eataly is selling now along with some other exotic citruses. It has all the sourness of the lemon with an added layer of sweetness, as if the fruit were coated in powdered sugar. It is PERFECT for the delicate taste of the uni.

But a plain old lemon or lime would work well, too! You don’t want to drown the uni, just season it.

Now you take your freshly cooked pot of sushi rice (For the rice’s cooking, I use a 1:2:.5 ratio of rice:water:rice wine vinegar)

And gently push your uni onto the steaming rice.

If that isn’t a sight for sore eyes, then I don’t know what IS!

You now gently fold the uni into the rice. Once again…try to keep those sacs whole. As you fold, you will see the uni change from a pale orange to a creamy peach color. And the sweet-salty scent of the ocean should waft up towards you.

Now throw in a bit of ponzu soy sauce and sesame oil. Not too much…you can always add more if you need, but these tastes are to compliment the uni, not compete with it.

And then you serve it with silky ribbons of the freshest Sashimi you can find.  

This uni rice is amazing. The sticky rice turns creamy with the addition of the uni and its salty, briny, citrusy flavor and positively velvety texture. The whole dish is light and salty and the pockets of whole uni are a hit of ocean freshness – lightly firm, but able to melt in your mouth. The ponzu adds freshness to the dish and the sesame oil grounds it.
6 uni cost like $10. And, honestly, this dish would be perfect with just a fried egg instead of the sashimi. Which makes it like a $7-per-person meal. 
And also, a totally luxurious experience.

Comments

  1. Hungry says:

    You have officially made me drool.

  2. Dee says:

    Nice try, but uni is one of maybe two things I abhor. The other being fried beef liver. Sea urchins are the liver of the ocean – totally gross. And that's what I said…;-)

  3. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Hungry-I do what i can :)
    @Dee-of all the comments you have written, that is the most hysterical!!!!

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