So sea urchin might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I made this the other day and it makes for a simple appetizer.
Uni's creamy, uniformly rich texture makes it a bit like the foie gras of the sea (minus the animal rights abuses). I like to give it two different treatments to add a bit of contrast. Half of it is steamed in mirin (sweet japanese cooking wine) while the other is cured between pieces of kelp with sea salt. The resulting sweet/briny, firm/soft, hot/cold juxtapositions add some much needed contrast to this tasty morsel.
I usually opt of the cheaper Uni for this preparation since size and color uniformity is less important (just make sure it's fresh).
- Fold a paper towel in half twice and lay a piece of konbu on top. Sprinkle an even layer of salt down on the kelp and lay each piece of uni on top in a single layer until you've gotten half way through the uni, or you're out of space. Sprinkle another even layer of salt on top of the uni and cover with another piece of kelp and another folded paper towel. Repeat with more kelp and salt if you have more uni, otherwise put it in the fridge to cure overnight.
- When you're ready to serve, get your steamer ready to steam. Put half the uni in a ramekin, or other shallow heat-proof dish and add enough mirin to generously coat each piece. Put it into the steamer for about 5-10 minutes or until the alcohol has burned off and the uni is cooked.
- When it's done, take the cured uni out of the fridge and gently mix with the steamed uni. Serve a small amount to each person with a glass of cold sake.