It's the middle of November here in New York, and we're still having springtime weather. This warm-blooded California boy isn't complaining, but it's a little disconcerting, especially with predictions of the end of the world only a few years away. I was thinking I may have to hang onto this post until next summer, but if the Mayans were right, you might want to try this sooner rather than later.
For those that have never had it, uni is the orange reproductive organs of the spiny sea urchin. I know, it doesn't sound appealing at all, but it's sweet, rich, and creamy, melting on your tongue into a briny pool of heaven. It's so rich, in fact, that I usually have a hard time eating more than a few pieces -- far fewer than the dozen and a half or so pieces that come in one flat.
That's why I came up with this preparation. The citrusy tang cuts through the richness of the sea urchin, while the crispy salad of veggies benefits from the creamy sweetness imparted by the golden swaths of uni.
While many recipes call for seeding tomatoes, the little gelatinous sacs around the seeds is where most of the umami-containing compounds in the tomato are, so by tossing the seeds, you're also parting with a lot of flavor. Plus, I love the the slippery texture of the sacs that do a convincing impression of caviar.
Have fun with the veggies you use. In the photo above, I used clear seaweed noodles instead of sea beans, and I've even toyed with the idea of using unripe fruit. Whatever you do, make sure you use produce that can hold up to the acidic dressing without wilting or getting soggy. Sweet peppers, cucumbers, and sunchokes are all great additions, and if green shiso is hard to find in your area, try going with other herbs like fresh basil or mint.
- 1 flat uni (sea urchin)
- 2 tomatoes ripe
- ¼ small red onion (cut into brunoise,⅛" cubes)
- ¼ small jicama (cut into brunoise, ⅛" cubes)
- 1 serrano chile (minced)
- 2 ounces sea beans
- 6 leaves green shiso (minced)
- ¼ cups lime juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper (to taste)
- To prepare the tomatoes, quarter them and use your fingers to scape out the seeds into a bowl and set aside. Cut the tomatoes into a small dice (¼" cubes), and add them to a non-reactive bowl along with the red onion, jicama, chile, sea beans and shiso. Refrigerate ready to serve.
- To serve just whisk the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together and pour over the vegetables. Toss gently to coat then plate individual servings, topping with a generous helping of sea urchin and the reserved tomato seeds.