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Monday, August 12, 2013

Sea Urchin Spaghetti Recipe

Sea urchin or uni is rich and creamy. It tastes very briny and yet sweet. Emulsified with some extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice, it makes a wonderful sauce for pasta. The type of pasta you use is up to you of course, but isn't it gorgeous on squid ink pasta? I love the look and flavor of squid ink pasta. It's such a treat! I got mine from Mattarello, a fresh pasta company run by John Pauley and his wife Anna.

I was a fan of John's pasta back when he was still cooking at Rex Cafe around the corner from my house. Now he sells his pasta at pop ups, generally at either Gourmet and More on Franklin or Biondivino wine shop on Green Street. His squid ink pasta is so good you can enjoy it with just a simple olive oil, garlic and white wine sauce with a little bit of chili flakes or parsley. He also sells lasagna, tortellini and some different shapes and styles of pasta, all made by hand.

This pasta is really a showstopper. I'd recommend serving it for a special occasion or dinner party. I adapted the recipe from one by Sara Jenkins I found in La Cucina Italiana, "spaghetti ai ricci di mare" but I simplified it a bit and didn't use any garlic.

Note: Another option is to make the sauce and top the pasta with another type of seafood instead of just more sea urchin. It's delicious with sautéed scallops or shrimp.

Sea Urchin Spaghetti
Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course


About 4 ounces fresh sea urchin, divided
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound fresh pasta preferably squid ink spaghetti
2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tablespoon finely chopped chives


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Combine 2 1/2  ounces sea urchin and lemon juice in the blender, purée until smooth. With blender running, add oil in a slow and steady stream until you have a thick emulsified sauce, the texture of mayonnaise. Transfer the sauce and parsley to a large bowl.

Cook pasta until just al dente. Drain and place in the bowl with sauce and parsley, and toss together. Let pasta sit just until it absorbs some of the sauce, about 1 minute, then season with salt to taste. Portion pasta onto serving plates. Top with remaining uni and garnish with chives.


Disclaimer: My thanks to Whole Foods for providing a sample of sea urchin for this recipe.