I love sea urchin in restaurants, but I'm a bit daunted by the idea of preparing them at home. Is there much to it?
Winter and spring are peak season for sea urchin roe, and most urchin roe is processed at sea (or on a wharf) by the divers who collect them from the sea floor in the subtidal zone along the coastline. But while the small balsa or plastic tubs found in better fishmarkets are convenient, there are few better culinary experiences than freshly shucked urchin roe. Opening up an urchin is not as challenging as it may seem. You can either snip carefully around the tip, a bit like you would if you were taking the top off a boiled egg, or simply chop it down the middle. Either way, the aim is to remove the five fingers of roe from the body sac, wash them briefly under cold salt water and remove the thin black membrane covering the roes. For me, freshly shucked roe sandwiched between slices of soft white bread, smothered in good butter with a grind of pepper and a squeeze of lemon is about as good as a post-snorkle snack can get.
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