I had my first bite of raw fish sushi in high school, but it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally persuaded myself to try uni. The delightfully pure saltiness of the roe was a surprise; somehow I had expected something more funky. Its subtle, oceany richness captivated me, and I've been eating it at sushi joints ever since. Until this week, however, I had never brought some home to cook with myself.
Ben Sargent's Flying Sea Urchin Pasta is, as he says in The Catch, a great way to introduce uni-newbies to the greatness of the ingredient. By blending the uni with olive oil and pasta water, Sargent creates a silky and unbelievably creamy cream-less sauce. Fresh flying fish roe adds plenty of textural interest, and a final dash of chives brighten the bowl up.
Why I picked this recipe: I can't get enough uni.
What worked: Everything here worked perfectly; the sauce was a snap to blend up, and then all that was left to do was a little bit of stirring.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: If you don't want to shell out for a quarter pound of uni, you can easily divide the recipe in half.
Reprinted with permission from The Catch: Sea-to-Table Recipes, Stories & Secrets by Ben Sargent with Peter Kaminsky. Copyright 2013. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- 1/4 pound sea urchin roe sacs
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 pound spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon tobiko (flying fish roe) or masago (smelt roe)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- 1 chive flower, separated into blossoms (optional)
In a blender, combine the sea urchin roe, olive oil, and cayenne pepper and puree.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Just before draining, measure out 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pot. Add the butter and stir to thoroughly coat the spaghetti. Add the sea urchin puree and 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water and stir over medium heat, adding more pasta water by the tablespoon, using most of it, until the pasta is coated with a creamy sauce. Do not boil. Remove the pot from the heat and taste for salt.
Divide the pasta among 4 bowls, top with tobiko and chives plus chive blossoms, if using, and serve.