[class Echinoidea many orders, genera and species]
Sea urchins are a favorite food of sea otters and California spiny lobsters. Their reproductive organs are eaten by people, sometimes lightly cooked in French sauces, but most commonly raw, mostly in Japan, Korea, Chile and California sushi bars.
Sea Urchins are harvested in California (where they are a popular sushi), New England (where they are NOT eaten, thank you very much), Chile, Japan and other places. They are shelled in the seafood factories and the edible organs are put up in rows in little wooden or plastic trays, ready to eat.
Here in Southern California Sea urchins are highly destructive to our
economically important kelp beds, so it would be better if more people
ate them. Perhaps they would be more popular if it were widely known that
sea urchin reproductive organs contain cannabinoids and are considered
aphrodisiac as well. In Japan these organs are called Uni and in
Chile they are called Erizo, and Ricci di mare in Sicily.
Go to your local sushi bar and order Uni, the lobsters and sea otters
can't handle them all without your help (yes, I like uni and order it
often). Photo ©
The photo to the left is the form in which Uni is most often served in sushi bars: a lump of rice with toasted seaweed (nori) wrapped around and the uni plunked on top. It often embellished with a raw quail egg broken over it. Yum!
Sea urchin is served raw with in Sicily and Chile, and used to flavor sauces in Italy and France. Photo © b0002.
Funny Story: This was published on the front page bottom center of the old Wall Street Journal, long before Murdock bought it and made it a Republican Party propaganda rag.
California's uni exports to Japan were doing well, but were not keeping up with demand (too much was being consumed domestically), so a fish factory in New England decided to get in on the business.
A Wall Street Journal reporter visited the operation and was shown around by the plant manager. At one point the manager picked up a tray of the product and asked the reporter if he'd like to try a sample. Being from California, the reporter said "Sure!", picked up a piece and popped it into his mouth.
One of the ladies on the shucking line stood up, pointed at him and shrieked in horror, "He's eating it!, He's eating it! Yeah, Down Easterners are still a bit provincial.