San Francisco Fish Company (SF) – Fresh Sea Urchin (Uni)

The San Francisco Fish Company in the Ferry Building is a confounding place. Despite its glamorous location and higher prices, the usual assortment of fish and shellfish leaves much to be desired – the “previously frozen” label all too hard to ignore. But every once in awhile they have a treat.

Yesterday, I was buying an excellent Heritage chicken (a write-up will be forthcoming) from Prather Ranch when serendipity must have led me across the hall into the fish store. I usually bypass it without a hint of feeling guilty about what I may have missed.

I walked in and immediately noticed the fresh Santa Barbara sea urchin sitting in the counter. Was I feeling lucky?

The Specimen
Sea Urchin

Close Up
Sea Urchin Close-up

The Rather Scary Interior – I have no doubt H.R. Giger has used the sea urchin for inspiration.
Sea Urchin inside

A Single Piece – notice how it resembles a tongue? The better it resembles a tongue, the better your chances.
Sea Urchin - Uni

The Final Yield – a 1lb sea urchin ($10.99) yields about 5 pieces. I have no idea if this specimen was typical but that’s a food cost of ~ $2/piece. Factor in a bulk discount, add some labor time, rent, and employess; suddenly the price of an uni nigiri doesn’t sound so unreal.
Sea Urchin - Uni

The Taste – I ate the uni raw. Unlike most foods, I find uni tastes better colder. After refrigerating for a few hours, the uni was creamy with the requisite brininess but it lacked sweetness. Nonetheless, a very strong example – I’ll buy this in the future.

Any Recipes? – Anyone have interesting recipes for uni?

- chuck

  • Wegemite

    yes, in fact I do – tossed through pasta with tomato, chili, parsley, a little garlic and a squeeze of lemon

    yummy and creamy without the cream

    or raw on ice wrapped in a shiso leaf

  • Administrator

    thanks Wegemit, i’ll give the pasta a shot – sounds good!

  • tania

    uuu…thanks for the reviews, i’ve been trying to find where i can get fresh sea urchins here in the bay, and this review has helped me

  • Gustavo

    I like the ones from Chile, they taste wonderful, with olive oil, chopped onions, chopped coriander a bit of lemon juice (squeeze the lemon over it). I have tasted ones from Magellan, great, I don’t know if they’re importing them now (