Uni/Sea Urchin

On Wednesday night, after “sweating to the oldies” all day, I came racing home to have a late night snack with “Monk”.  We’ve been going like gangbusters at Tapenade with Christmas party after Christmas party, so I am no doubt famished after work.  Yes I know, I should be watching my sodium intake, no more late night snacking, I need to get more exercise, reduce my cholesterol, yadda, yadda, yadda.  No doubt, I will be dedicating more of myself to better health, but this sea urchin snack was outstanding, luxurious and a rare treat. 

The Sea Urchin. Our spiny little buddy.

For years, “Monk” was not a fan of sea urchin.   For some unknown reason, I kept bugging her to taste bits and bobs of it and over time she has developed quite an appreciation for uni.   A few years ago, we were having lunch at our local sushi joint on Davie Street and midway through our meal, the server informed me that live sea urchin had just arrived and they would prepare it for me immediately if I was interested.  I obviously said yes and ever since that day, “Monk” got hooked by uni as well.   It was some of the freshest and tastiest sea urchin I have ever had.  Now, she dips into my gluttonous share of “fresh from the sea” goodness all the time and our sushi bills are continually on the rise. 

I love uni.  I think that it is the epitome of the best the sea has to offer.  It’s delicious, it’s sustainable, it’s just so perfectly delicate and “in your face” all in one bite.  I’ve had a long-term relationship with uni and love it so.  Apart from a single bad experience I had while in high school in Toronto, I’ve always had strong feelings toward uni.  We even play a little game at Tapenade called “If you were a sushi, what sushi would you be?”  For me, I’ve always been linked to uni.  I’m spiky on the outside(a reference to my hair and demeanor), yet sweet, delicate and luxurious on the inside.  The explanation runs deep, but the long and the short of it is, I relate well to sea urchin.   “Fat Joel” is unagi (eel), “Great Wall” is Copper River Sockeye Salmon BC Roll, “Godfather” is a mango/foie gras sushi created by Sada-san of Octopus’ Garden, “Boomer” is albacore tuna toro and “Sales Mix” has recently evolved into a no rice, veggie, egg white seaweed roll; no fat, no carbs, no flavor.  A lot can be said of a person, by the sushi equivalent that they are.  It’s a revolutionary psychological theory that I have, which I need to research further before I publish. 

UNI! The ultimate expression of the sea.

For our snack, “Monk” cooked some sushi rice, I toasted some seaweed and we had a little soy sauce and wasabi on the side.  It’s just the simplest and best way to eat sea urchin.  I must have made about 10 little sea urchin, seaweed tacos and boy were they good.  It’s just so perfect.  The pure luxury of it reminds me of  the indulgence of caviar and I think while I’m in Toronto, I’m going to try to put together a big caviar feed for my family as a Christmas treat.  I still have some contacts with the caviar suppliers there and maybe I can source me some sea urchin as well.  Caviar, sea urchin, some hot buckwheat blinis, maybe some nice smoked salmon as well; now that would be the ultimate  late night snack.

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