Sea urchin, also known as uni, is best enjoyed on sushi. uni sushi can be tricky to get a hold of, but if the right kind it can be very delicious!
There are only two views on uni, as I have found: You either love it or you absolutely hate it. There really isn’t any in between.
The reason being is generally the texture. Uni has a creamy, often briny flavor and texture. Some people say that the freshest sea urchin is even slightly sweet!
First and foremost, you must know about the different grades of uni:
- Grade A- Typically a bright yellow or gold in color. This is the highest grade and therefore the most expensive. Grade A has a firm texture and is among the sweetest varieties of uni (sweet being a relative term in this case).
- Grade B- This grade has a matte yellow color, slightly softer texture, and is less sweet.
- Grade C- The lowest grade of uni- often referred to as vana. This grade is usually a dull yellow and is often the left over cuts from the processing or handling.
Why is uni so expensive?
Uni is difficult to raise, delicate to harvest, and yields small portions of edible meat. It is also best served fresh (most people recommend eating uni with 24 hours of the animal being alive).
All of these factors add to the initial cost.
However, there is hope! The United State’s West coast is currently the largest supplier of sea urchin. So your best bet to get the freshest of the fresh is to travel to California and find yourself a nice sushi bar on the bay.
Here are some interesting facts about uni sushi:
- Uni is highly desirable in Asian countries and is often seen as an aphrodisiac
- A single sea urchin only contains five ‘lobes’ of fragile, edible meat
- The Japanese say that uni is best enjoyed during colder parts of the year- claiming that December is the best month- making it a somewhat seasonal delicacy
- The quality of uni is largely dependent on gender, diet, and time of harvest
- Uni is rich in protein, fiber, and Vitamins A, C, & E
- Uni contains high amounts of Iodine and Calcium
- 100 grams of sea urchin only contains 125 calories (about 2 pieces of nigiri)
To make Uni Nigiri, please see the “Nigiri Boats” section on our Nigiri page.