Being the carb fiend that I am, I love pasta. Being Japanese, I love uni . As I was mulling over what to make for dinner around 5:30 pm tonight, I stared into my nearly empty fridge, wondering what I could do with a flat of gorgeous uni that was staring back at me from its perch on the middle shelf.
Looking through the vegetable drawer, I turned up a bunch of tarragon and started wondering what it might taste like with the creamy sweet uni. Pasta seemed like a natural accompaniment and I thought about a simple olive oil preparation with chopped up tarragon, but the color palette was starting to sound like the skate from the other night.
I also wondered if the delicate flavour of the sea urchin might get overwhelmed by a late addition of fresh tarragon. After I'd already made the dough for the pasta, it occurred to me that I could infuse the pasta with tarragon flavour. Naturally, I sharpened my knife and starting mincing up some tarragon so I could incorporate it into the dough. A few minutes and a lot of kneading later, I had a green speckled dough that smelled of olive oil and tarragon.
For the sauce, I decided to blend some of the uni straight into it so it could coat every strand of tagliatelle. To add a bit more depth I reduced some chicken stock and added scallions at the end. The sauce was thick and creamy with a pleasant brininess, but it needed some highlights, so in went a squeeze of lemon juice.
The finished dish? Long strands of fragrant tagliatelle enrobed with the briny essence of the sea, accompanied by little bits of sweet raw uni that burst in your mouth with each bite of the chewy noodles.
Sea urchin butter
- To make the pasta, put the 2 flours in a wide shallow bowl and mix in the tarragon to combine. Make a well in the center and add the egg and olive oil. Stir together with a fork until the liquid is absorbed by the flour and it starts to come together. Start kneading it with your hands, adding water as needed to make the dough come together. After kneading for a while, if the dough is still sticky, add more flour. If the dough crumbles apart easily add more water. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is very elastic.
- Roll out and cut the pasta according to your pasta maker's directions. Boil a large pot of salted water along with a small handful of tarragon. Add the pasta and cook removing a noodle to test every few minutes until it is al dente.
- Put the butter and half of the sea urchin in the workbowl of a small food processor and blitz until smooth. Boil the chicken stock until reduced by half. Add the scallions and turn down the heat to low. Squeeze a little lemon juice into the stock. Whisk the butter/urchin mixture into the stock stirring constantly until you are ready to serve.
- Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve immediately topped with the remaining raw uni.