Monday, July 20, 2009
Having an urge for an urchin?
• Sea Urchins are a delicacy that only becomes edible during their reproductive stage
• The edible part of the urchin is in fact its sex organs, five of them to be precise
• Red-shelled urchins are the most popular and can be found in the warm mediteranean sea
• Green-shelled urchins are the most rare and can be found in the cold atlantic ocean, they are also the most expensive.
Hidden inside a well-armored exterior, is a creamy orange delicacy known as the ‘sea urchin’. Sea urchins only become edible during their reproductive cycle. The unique flavour of the urchin comes from the “roe”, the orange parts of the urchin. Although these bits might look like like egg sacks, diners are actually feasting on their five sex organs - one of the reasons this seafood is considered an aphrodisiac.
The shells of urchins varies in colour, such as red, purple and green. Red is the most well-known since it is indigenous to the romantic Mediterranean and Southern California locales. Green shelled urchins can be found in the cold water of the atlantic and is very expensive because it doesn’t break down in the frying process.
Opening the hard shell of the urchin is an art. Carefully avoiding the spines, you have to cut around the top using a blunt knife and scissors or a specific sea-urchin shear. Seawater pores out of the shell and leaves only the black web that holds the roe together, behind. When cooked in oil, the urchins release water and become creamy.
Although young females are most popular because of their bright colour and firm texture, it is said that the duller males are better tasting. A topmost urchin at a top restaurant can cost up to R400 for less than 114 grams.