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Sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus fransiscanus; S. drobachiensis; S. purpuratus)

Sea urchin
Sea urchin

Scientific name for Sea urchin

Strongylocentrotus fransiscanus; S. drobachiensis; S. purpuratus

Common name(s) for Sea urchin

Red sea urchin, green sea urchin, purple sea urchin

Market name

Sea urchin

Other language names for Sea urchin

  • French: Oursin
  • German: Seeigel
  • Italian:
  • Japanese: Uni
  • Spanish: Erizo de mar

Introduction to Sea urchin

Although there are about 500 kinds of sea urchins worldwide, the red, green, and purple sea urchins are the most economically lucrative in the United States. The spherical echinoderms have a hard, spiny shell called a “test” that houses a star-shaped mass of gonads (in males) or roe (in females); both are sold as roe. The term uni is also often used in sushi, owing to the Japanese’s extensive consumption of sea urchins. On the United States’ Pacific Coast, all three urchin species are collected: red and purple urchins are harvested from Baja, California to Alaska, while green urchins are harvested from Washington to Alaska. The Atlantic Coast, from eastern Canada to Cape Cod, is commercially fished for just green urchins. California (red urchins) and Maine (sea urchins) are the top producers in the United States (green urchins). The majority of merchandise is destined for Japan. Divers collect West Coast sea urchins. Divers and trawlers capture urchins on the East Coast.

Product Profile for Sea urchin

The red urchin is the largest, with a shell diameter of approximately 7 inches; the green urchin is the smallest, with a shell diameter of around 1 1/2 inches. The color of urchin roe varies from canary yellow to orange. The membrane that holds the roe in place should be undamaged. The membrane of cleaned uni is firmed by soaking it in an alum-salt solution. Uni of high grade has a sweet flavor and a silky, buttery texture. Male roe has a silkier texture than female roe, which resembles delicate cream of wheat.

Nutrition for Sea urchin

Calories: 150
Fat Calories: 50
Total Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 200 mg
Sodium: 200 mg
Protein: 10 g
Omega 3: 0.5 g

Cooking tips for Sea urchin

Uni can be eaten straight from the shell or spread on crackers with a squeeze of lemon. Use it to make sushi, omelets, rich seafood sauces, and crepe fillings. Fresh urchin roe is preferred since frozen roe loses texture and the membrane sacs might rupture, although frozen roe is good for sauces and other applications.

Cooking methods for Sea urchin

Bake , Saute , Steam

Primary Product Forms for Sea urchin

Fresh: Roe

Frozen: Roe

Value-added: Salted roe, Canned roe, Fermented paste

Global Supply for Sea urchin

Canada, United States, Iran