Live Whole California Sea Urchin
This product is available during these seasons:
Sea urchins are bottom feeding echinoderms that are found around the world. California sea urchins are usually found in kelp beds near the coastline in about 50 feet of water. The urchins that we process (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) range from dark blackish purple to red in color. Covered with short to long spines, the diameter of a sea urchin can reach up to six inches and the average weight is one pound.
Inside every sea urchin is the prize: bright orange to pale yellow, “tongues” of uni. Commonly referred to as roe, these soft golden tongues are actually the urchin’s reproductive organs. On average, each urchin will contain five uni tongues. Uni has long been considered a delicacy in Japan and sushi bars worldwide because of its sweet flavor and succulent texture that melts in your mouth. In some cultures, it is considered an aphrodisiac!
When we ship live California sea urchin, it is indeed alive. Live urchin is cold packed with gel packs and mailed with the last shipments of the day to make sure it will be strong enough to get to its destination. Sometimes the live urchin perishes during transit. However, this in no way means the urchin is bad! We guarantee that it is still completely fresh and perfectly safe to consume.
Once you get the hang of it, cracking, cleaning and serving sea urchin is quite fun! To view a video tutorial:
When you crack open a whole, live California sea urchin you will find any combination of the following grades. All can be eaten raw.
Gold (A-Grade): Bright gold, yellow or orange color. Creamy yet firm texture. Fresh ocean scent and ocean-sweet taste. Uni pieces are large and complete intact. This is exceptionally high-grade uni for use in top-quality sushi.
Premium (B-Grade): Gold, yellow or orange color but less brilliant than A-Grade. Creamy yet firm texture. Uni pieces are smaller but primarily intact. Fresh ocean scent and ocean-sweet taste. Used for sushi and other dishes as the featured item.
Vana (C-Grade): Dark yellow or orange or even tending toward brown in color. Melty texture and slightly nutty flavor. Uni sections may be intact but are mostly broken pieces. Typically shipped frozen. Due to its ultra-soft consistency, vana is typically used in dishes where it is mixed with other ingredients, such as soups and sauces.