Sea urchin sashimi and donburi 雲丹の刺身と雲丹丼

japanese cake

We cannot decide if we like ankimo 鮟肝 better than sea urchin “uni” 雲丹 or vice-versa. But the batch of California sea urchin we got this time was particularly excellent. Certainly much better than most we tasted in Japan last time. This one was harvested offshore in California and delivered to us overnight by Catalonia Offshore Products. We can get uni from California and from Maine in the U.S. Maine uni is like “bafun uni” 馬糞雲丹. It is smaller, firmer, darker, and gamier. We prefer the one from California which is bright yellow with a very creamy texture and clean taste.  We enjoy either uni as long as it is fresh and not off-tasting. We gave up ordering uni in sushi bars since the variability of uni quality and freshness is so wide and even after asking the sushi chef if the uni is good and getting his approval, we have had less-than-aceptable uni. Having bad uni turns you off eating any uni very quickly.

We like to first enjoy uni in its pure form, with wasabi and soy sauce and nori seaweed which has a special affinity to uni. I garnish uni with nori strips. I also serve uni on top of slices of lemon. The very subtle lemon flavor is transferred to the uni. This has to be tasted with sake. Aaaah, a fresh ocean taste spreads in your mouth. No other drink will go with uni.

I mentioned earlier in my blog that my wife loves a donburi dish made with uni and ikura (salmon roe) called uni-ikura-don うにいくら丼 and that she had one in Otaru last time we visited Japan. So, by her request, I made a mini uni-ikura-don. Unfortunately I did not do a good job making “golden thread” omelet 金糸卵 this time (I browned the omelet but it tasted the same).  Assembling of this dish starts with a bed of sushi rice. Scatter thinly cut strips of nori, place ikura and uni, garnish with a chiffonade of perilla and golden thread omelet. I dissolved real wasabi in the “sashimi” soy sauce and served it on the side to be poured over. Mmmm…this may be too much of a good thing!

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