What Does Sea Urchin Taste Like?

If you ever end up on the coasts next to the ocean and want to try a decadent Japanese delicacy, then don’t hesitate to try sea urchin. Sea urchin can be found off of most coasts of the world and along the beaches of water locked countries. Seafood markets will sell these delicacies fresh and can be taken home with you the same day you find them, but what do they taste like? 

Sea urchins have a soft inside that is consumed, rather than the spiny outside. The texture of the meat inside is smooth and buttery, often considered a rich flavor in seafood cuisine. Since it’s the reproductive organs that are eaten from this animal, one can also taste sea urchin roe (eggs) and this gives the meat a decidedly briney and caviar-like flavor. 

Where Can You Find Sea Urchin

Sea urchins can be found all over the world, mostly around the shallow coasts of the oceans. The Japanese were the first to turn the sea urchin into a major delicacy and to feature it amongst its cuisine. Sea urchin can also be found sold fresh at seafood markets close to the coasts and beaches of the most popular oceans. 

Taste of the Ocean: The Sea Urchin

Sea urchins contain a lot of the salt and brine from the watery environments around them. Sea urchins should be harvested or bought fresh. A fresh sea urchin will have intact spines and a soft inner body inside. 

This inner body is what is eaten and is known as the gonads of the sea urchin. The gonads are often eaten raw and have a rich, buttery texture with a snap of salt water. If the gonads were full of sea urchin roe (eggs) then the taste will explode with a salty, almost fishy like flavor and a somewhat tart crunch.

It is important to consume sea urchin fresh. A fresh sea urchin will exhibit all the signs of a smooth flavor and taste. A sea urchin that is dead or has sat too long will give off a distinct smell, will feel slimy, and is not good to eat. 

It is also important to note that different types of sea urchin taste different according to what body of water they are found in. 

How to Consume Sea Urchin

Sea urchin can be consumed raw and or cooked. 

Best in its Raw Form

Sea urchin is best consumed in its raw form to better appreciate the flavors and textures of this delicacy. The light buttery taste accompanied by the splash of briney salt water flavor makes this the perfect appetizer. Sea urchin is usually prepared with a spray of lemon or butter to accentuate the flavors. 

How to Prepare a Sea Urchin

Sea urchin can be found in the shallows off the coast of most beaches or found in seafood markets close by. Sea urchins should not give off a smell or appear slimy to the touch and should also be in one piece, covered by spikes. These spikes can be avoided by wearing gloves while harvesting and preparing.

To prepare a sea urchin to eat, simply poke a hole in the bottom of the sea urchin and let it drain. Cut a hole in the bottom of the shell and peel away the outer portion. There will be black innards inside, around the meaty part of the sea urchin, wash this out.

The meat of the urchin is generally orange and has a strange texture to it. Cut this meat out of the urchin to separate from the inside and replace it in the shell to serve. 

A Note on Venomous Spikes

Not all sea urchins are venomous. Most that are prepared as food are not venomous. The only thing venomous about the sea urchin is it’s spikes which must be avoided when handling.

Cooked Sea Urchin

If you do end up finding a recipe to use cooked sea urchin in, make sure you know how to properly store the leftovers. Reheating your seafood dish correctly is just as important as the original preparation of the dish.  Cooked sea urchin shares the same flavor as raw sea urchin, but it has a firmer feel to its meat.

Conclusion

Sea urchin is a Japanese delicacy and can be found off the shallow coasts of just about every major continent. Sea urchin is best consumed fresh from the bank or from the seafood market. Sea urchin has a buttery and rich quality to it and can change in flavor according to the water it’s found in. 

Sea Urchin is best consumed fresh and raw. Sea urchin eggs have been known to be found within the sea urchin and can provide a tart splash of briney salt water flavor similar to caviar.