How To Hunt And Eat Sea Urchins


Why Hunt And Eat Sea Urchins?

1. They're delicious!
Sea urchin roe or "uni" has a strong, briny, ocean taste like caviar, and a rich, creamy, delicate consistency like foie gras.

2. And nutritious!
Full of vitamin A, D, zinc, and long-chain fatty acids. This is why roe is prized as a superfood in many cultures, especially for pregnant women.

3. Preemptive strike.
Hunt and eat them before they sting you with their spines while you frolic about at the beach. The best defense is a good offense!

Sea urchins are the bane of surfers and other beachgoers everywhere!
Making sand art was fun but I wanted to frolic in the water too!
Time for a preemptive strike against the sea urchins...

How To Hunt Sea Urchins

1. Go to a beach where sea urchins dwell.
You will know because the locals (or your beach trip companions who've had previous painful encounters) will warn you to avoid stepping on them. These are usually beaches with lots of rocks and pebbles, where sea urchins like to hide.

We went to Calico-An, Samar, for the Surfing Competition October 2012.
Check out Surf To Live To Surf and JM Quiblat's Facebook page for more gnarly photos from that surf trip!

2. Make sure the local sea urchins are edible species.
If the sea urchins look unfamiliar to you, verify with the locals first.

We found small sea urchins in various hues-- dark brown, reddish brown, yellow green, and pale pink.

3. Prepare your weapon and basket.

Your weapon should be a sturdy pointy object with which to poke the sea urchins, and your basket should be a convenient receptacle in which to place captured sea urchins. Be creative, and remember that the sea often provides! The waves brought us a nicely sharpened bamboo stick, and a Stoked cap that probably belonged to one of the surfers (we cleaned and returned it after using it). If you are especially crafty, you may be able to weave a basket from drifting seaweed.

You'll need something to pry the sea urchin out of its hiding nook.

3. Wait for low tide.

Hopefully this is during early morning, when waters are calm and the sun is bright enough to illuminate your hunting expedition. Ideal hunting grounds for beginners are calm, clear, shallow waters, up to knee-deep.

Enjoy the sunrise while waiting for low tide.

4. Charge!

Wear protective footwear (slippers will do) and remain vigilant. Sea urchins typically hide in nooks and crannies between rocks and inside holes. Be careful not to step in these areas. Use your weapon to pry the creatures loose, and nudge them carefully into your basket. Expect stubborn resistance from the quarry. Be persistent and strategic in utilizing your weapon. Soon, you should be able to fill your basket.

5. Carry your captives back to the shore.
Triumphantly raise your weapon above your head and be praised by your fellows for your successful hunt.

How To Eat Sea Urchins

1. Smash away the spines.
Again, be creative and remember that the sea provides. We used some beach stones for this purpose. A large flat stone served as a smashing surface, another stone served as the bludgeoning device, and yet another stone or stick served to hold the sea urchin in place. Rinse in clean fresh or saltwater.

The Altar Of Sacrifice!
This is a tedious and time-consuming activity, so it's more fun to do in a group.
Even after its spines have been smashed away, the sea urchin's mouth--
a circular orifice crowned with sharp little teeth-- is still strong enough to grip!

2. Slice open the sea urchin.
The edible part is the roe and it's usually orange or yellow. Remove the "poison" glands-- these aren't really poisonous, just bitter. Rinse in clean fresh or saltwater. If you are rinsing in freshwater, just one quick rinse is enough-- you just want to clean it quickly, and you don't want to wash away too much of that nice briny ocean flavor.

3. Eat with gusto!
No need to cook, and if you're already familiar with Japanese cuisine, no need to worry about pathogens in raw seafood. It's great as is. You can also try it with various condiments such as toyo (soy sauce), calamansi (Philippine lemon), wasabi, or vinegar. You can also sprinkle it on steamed rice. Savor the utter freshness of your meal, and the fact that you hunted it yourself-- a rather rare treat in modern civilization.

Modern-day hunter-gatherer.

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