How to Eat Sea Urchin — Uni Catch and Cook Guide

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If you’re ever interested in knowing the sea hedgehog’s taste, you have to know how to eat sea urchin to enjoy these spiny globular animals properly.

Like Japan and Korea, many countries around the world serve dishes and delicacy from the reproductive organs or gonads of the sea urchins. But you don’t have to go to Japan to enjoy eating them as the Japanese do with their uni-inspired food.

Harvesting urchins can be a side trip when California spearfishing or free diving. 

How to Catch Urchin

Before you can enjoy the taste of sea urchins, you have to know how to catch or harvest them. Diving for sea urchins is one of the most enjoyable experiences for spearos and divers. The urchins are slow-moving animals that can be found in or around rocks.

Harvesting them can be easy if you’ve come prepared with the proper gears and knowledge. When making a side trip on spearfishing to catch some sea urchins, you will need gloves to protect your hands from its spiny shell.

Equip yourself with a knife to pry the urchins from their position and a mesh bag to place your harvested urchins in. An essential part of catching sea urchin is keeping them in ocean water or saltwater until they’re ready to be eaten. 

How to Clean and Eat Urchin

When you open an urchin, you still have to use gloves to protect your hands and a knife to cut the urchin. There are many ways you can try opening the sea urchin with.

First is solely by using a knife, in which you have to cut the urchin in half through the mouth. This way of opening may require you to use a bit of brute force in forcing your knife through the shell.

Second is by circling your knife following the mouth’s shape and using two spoons to separate each half of the sea urchin.

Once you’ve opened the sea urchin, you will see the gonads, usually yellow, orange, or red. You can take out the roe with your spoon and submerge it in salt water to keep it fresh if you plan on using it for cooking, especially in pasta sauces.

But if you want to enjoy your roe or uni raw, it is good to consume it straight after opening, provided that you’ve cleaned the sand off of it with saltwater. 

Sea Urchin Regulations

Taking sea urchins out of the ocean water requires a sport fishing license for any SoCal divers or spearos. It is a species that is open for harvesting all year round but within limits.

If you can find forty gallons of purple urchins for you to bag, you could. According to the Fish and Wildlife, forty is your number when harvesting sea urchins found in SoCal water.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat sea urchin raw?

Spearos and divers who harvest sea urchins best enjoy these ocean species raw and fresh from the shell. They are edible, just the same as how the Japanese can enjoy sushi. 

What part of a sea urchin do you eat?

The gonads or the uni of the sea urchin are the edible organs that people enjoy eating raw or even prepared as an ingredient of a delicious meal.

How do you prepare sea urchins to eat?

You can prepare it best by cleaning the sand off upon opening the shell. You can eat the uni raw like sushi or use it as one of your food or dish ingredients. The roe or gonads can be a good flavor to your pasta dish or food if you feel like being a chef in your own home restaurant. 

How do sea urchins taste?

The species graced the world with its part sweet and part briny taste. They taste like the sea as it is related to the salty taste. Often, we like to think the taste is one milder version of oysters or caviar. It’s known to be edible and has a unique texture that melts in your mouth.

Jon Stenstrom
Founder & Angler
Jon Stenstrom is a fishing enthusiast. He has over 25 years of fishing experience, and 6 years of spearfishing experience, and is currently learning how to boat. Jon has his Open Water PADI Certification and FII Freediver Level 1 Certification. Jon has traveled the world to fish and dive, most notably in the Great Barrier Reef, Baja Mexico, Thailand, and Malaysia. More Articles
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