This is for uni lovers:
Learned this little tidbit recently: according to California’s Fish and Game Department, an individual is allow to gather 35 sea urchins each day with proper licensing. My jaw dropped upon hearing this from my friend before my brain went into hyper drive. So many uni(s), so little time!
Thanks to Foodbuzz’s 24×24, I got to throw a fall picnic featuring the spiky, yet scrumptious sea urchin roe. Serendipitously, my friend just moved into a new home, so what better way to celebrate than to christen by feasting in his new backyard?
The first part was getting the uni—we gather a small group of water loving and licensed friends for a dive to fulfill our hunter gatherer instincts. Unfortunately due to ocean conditions and a minor emergency, we weren’t able to gather the spiky creatures from our schedule date.
My friend did some quick thinking and shared his source for unbelievable seafood. Located in the industrial side of Downtown Los Angeles, there is a seafood warehouse called Los Angeles Fish Co. Although they mostly cater to top sushi restaurants and wholesalers, they open up to the general public from 6am to 9am. So, we woke up at the crack of down and made a trek to the fish market.
Inside Los Angeles Fish Co. were endless displays of seafood. There were fresh toro fillets, oysters, mollusks of all sizes and shapes—it’s easy to get overwhelm with their selection. However, we were on a mission for uni so we bought out their entire supply of Santa Barbara sea urchin roe and got straight to work.
1. Sea Urchin with Wasabi Salt
Since the sea urchin was all ready cleaned, the first course was to simply enjoy them on their own with a little wasabi salt sprinkled on top. Simultaneously sweet, creamy and briny, they were a wonderful way to begin the meal.
2. Uni Shiso Tempura with Lime Salt (Recipe here)
This course is one of Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature dishes with good reason. Picture smooth uni wrapped in a shiso leaf, then again in crispy nori and battered in a light tempura batter and deep fried and served with a zesty lime salt. It has the consistency of fried cheese on a stick but way better!
3. Creamy Uni Scrabbled Eggs with Crostini and Greens (Recipe here)
Though everyone has their own method of making scrambled eggs, Gordon Ramsey’s technique yields the most luxurious texture in my opinion. His secret? Low heat, patience and lots of stirring. Since learning Ramsey’s method, I have never gone back. For this course, I mixed in a healthy measure of uni at the very end to elevate this traditional brunch favorite.
4. Seared Scallops with Uni Risotto and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (recipe to be posted)
My friend and I spied some plump scallops at the warehouse and this was the end result—a dish celebrating sea bounty. In efforts to moderate the moderate the richness of the dish (there was a lot of cream, cheese and butter hidden in the risotto!), we paired it with roasted cherry tomatoes.
5. Sea Breeze Granita (Recipe here)
With such a rich and heavy meal, we went light with the dessert (and uni free). Inspired by the old-fashioned Sea Breeze cocktail, we made a cranberry grapefruit granita with vodka. Think snow cones for adults!
In efforts to keep this entry to a manageable length, I’ll be posting each uni-centric (and dessert) recipe in their own separate page, one for each day of this week. Thanks for reading and happy eating!
Los Angeles Fish Company
420 Standord Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: (213) 629-1213