Sea Urchin

The sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) is a species of echinoderms (Echinodermata) with culinary tradition on the Cantabrian coast. Its shape is round and has a rough and thorny surface. It is dark in color, with a tendency to violet, green and black. Its long spines protect it, while helping to move along the bottom of the sea, albeit very slowly. When they fall they show a body divided into plates. Its body is not totally spherical, but rather flattened by the areas of the mouth and anus. When they are cut in half, they recognize their gonads, red (strong yellow or orange if they are females and light yellow or brown if they are male) that is the consumable part that concentrates all their flavor and that determines low gastronomic yield Many copies for a single diner). This fact, together with the industriousness involved when they moved to the plate (breaking their tines to access the gonads) were circumstances that had relegated them in the past. However, the Greeks and Romans already cataloged them at the same culinary height as lobsters or oysters. Its flavor is the best marine portrait possible.

It is harvested from the cliffs, rocks and seabed along the coast of Cantabria and in Asturias, on the rocks or submerging and then undergo a careful selection process. The problem with this species is that its feeding season coincides just with the weeks prior to laying eggs, hence the need to strictly control the extractions and the existence of specific exploitation plans approved by the Administration. Harvesting should be done carefully, by hand, and the roe are preserved as they are.

They can be eaten cooked or raw (preferably) when they are in season (which starts in October and lasts until May, having a high point in the first quarter of the year, when the product shows all its expressiveness). This is a totally natural handmade product, an exquisite snack with an intense brackish flavor that concentrates in its gonads, from which the well-known hedgehog caviar is extracted. The modern kitchen incorporates them to sauces that accompany the fish that multiply their flavor to the sea. Scrambles and mayonnaise are also prepared.

For those who want to live a first-class culinary experience, the best choice of consumption is raw, fresh off the rock. A taste of iodine and salt, concentrated and with power with an intense aroma and unmistakable sea flavor. If you choose to cook them, not more than a minute of cooking is enough. Parea those who discover this pleasure during their trip and fall in love with these peculiar roe, we recommend you to buy them in canned because they perfectly withstand the passage of time and can use them for example in a tortilla scramble or fish. It is a good gastronomic souvenir that is easily found in most delicatessen shops.

About the author

Montse Gonzalez