Eat A Foodie’s Encounter with Sea Urchin
As we descend down a set of wooden stairs to a secluded beach, we see the flickering glow of tiki torches. As we get closer, we can smell the fire burning amongst the tables. My husband and I are on this beach to experience the raw culinary experience.
When we get to the tables, we see that there is a wide variety of seafood laid out. Some of these fish were familiar to us, and some were not. Not long after everyone has arrived, the chef explains the seafood in detail. We learn about the conch and how they are hand caught by divers. The next one is a little more familiar to us, and it looks like a lobster, but we are told that they are called crayfish. Crayfish do not have claws like a lobster and are smaller, and the taste is sweeter. It is hard to believe that the next one we are introduced to is even edible. It is a round spiky animal that seems to have no head or legs. This is the sea urchin.
We had seen this dangerous-looking creature on a recent snorkeling excursion and were very intrigued to learn more about it. The chef told us that stepping on one is extremely painful. However, the orange insides taste lovely and are a delicacy around the world. Wearing gloves for protection from the long spikes, the chef shows us how to open the sea urchin. Carefully, we cut open the shell to get to the inside. The liquid is poured out, and the reproductive organs, called uni, are revealed. They are bright orange, and there are five in each.
In many places, uni is eaten right out of the sea urchin with no flavoring added, but the chef tells us that we are going to make sea urchin ceviche. We are shown how to make an emulsion for marinating the uni. The emulsion mixes the local Pyrat rum, which is a dark rum, lime, ginger and scotch bonnet pepper. While preparing the other dishes, the uni marinates in this. As we continue to “cook” our dinner, we revel in doing this barefoot with the sounds of the Caribbean sea lapping not far away. Cooking has never been so relaxing as this.
Once we finish the other dishes, it is time to complete the ceviche. We add pineapples, onions, mint and green bell peppers to the dish. Now we get to eat the finished dishes! The ceviche is sweet and spicy, and the uni dissolves in your mouth, giving way to all the flavors added during the marinating process.
After the meal, my husband and I sit in the sand, enjoying an after-dinner rum. Preparing a meal on the beach has inspired me to cook more unusual dishes on my return home. I will undoubtedly be making sea urchin ceviche if only to relive this moment on the beach in Anguilla.