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Uni // Sea Urchin // Foie Gras of the Sea

Sea Urchins are in high demand. According to a recent NPR story, Raising Tastier Sea Urchins for Foodies and the Environment, sea urchins have been so overharvested, that in some areas, their numbers will never recover. The gonads (yes, the sex organs) of the sea urchins, or sea urchin "roe," are culinary delicacies and considered to be an aphrodisiac. The Italians call it ricci and stir it in pasta or risotto, while the Japanese call it uni andsimply eat it raw over a ball of rice. 
Given their prized status, uni is not cheap.  A single piece of uni nigiri at Shiro's in Seattle goes for $4 and a tray of premium uni from Catalina Offshore Products goes for up to $20.  If you're willing to put in the effort though, you can crack open the spiky urchin shell and carefully scoop out the live roe-- I recently bought a whole sea urchin from Ranch 99 for only about $6.  Above, a few variations on a theme-- uni w/ prosciutto wrapped honey dew, uni w/ brie & toast, peppe…

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