Dining date: 8/1/13
I’ve chronicled a number of risotto dishes on this blog, but I’ve been meaning to prepare a sea urchin (uni) risotto for a while. I was recently inspired by a meal at Mexicali Taco & Co., in which an uni-diving friend brought pounds of fresh urchin to top off our tacos. With some of the residual uni and its juices, I went home to finally prepare this risotto.
There are few published recipes of uni risotto online; I found a couple but really relied on a basic risotto recipe. While I often use chicken stock in my risottos, some suggested a dashi or seafood stock for this application. I ended up using a diluted chicken stock mainly because it’s easier, believing that the chicken flavor would not overpower the sea urchin. Finally, the difference-maker would be the addition of a creamy uni mixture at the end of cooking to bring it all together. Below is the recipe I followed, which will be a large portion for one person or two moderate portions.
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 ounces fresh sea urchin (and its juices, if applicable), with a couple slivers reserved for garnish
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, minced
1 cup carnaroli rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1. Blend or process uni and heavy cream to incorporate into a smooth cream and slightly aerate.
2. Bring the broth and water to a simmer. Cover and keep the broth warm over the lowest possible heat.
3. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and salt and cook until lightly browned, about 9 minutes.
4. Stir in the rice and cook until the edges begin to turn translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until it is completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups of the warm broth mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, about 11 minutes.
5. Continue to cook, stirring in roughly 1/2 cup of the broth every few minutes, until the rice is cooked through but is still somewhat firm in the center, about 11 minutes.
6. Off the heat, stir in the uni & cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste and plate immediately. Garnish with slivers of sea urchin.
I supplemented the reserved sea urchin juices with a small tray of fresh urchin from my local Japanese market. Sampling a piece, I knew this would turn out pretty well as long as I didn’t thoroughly mess anything up.
I used an immersion blender to process my urchin and cream, leaving it in the refrigerator to keep cool.
The remaining steps read like a general risotto recipe from sauteeing the onions to toasting the rice to cooking the rice in a deliberate amount of liquid. Once the rice was slightly soupy and still al dente, I quickly mixed in my creamy mixture and poured it onto a warm plate. The reserved slivers of uni were the final touches.
I was pretty happy with the way this turned out. I’ve gotten fairly adept at making a risotto so I figured the rice would turn out well; the addition of the creamy, rich uni mixture really brought the sea urchin flavor. I think the amounts of heavy cream and sea urchin can be played around with depending on one’s palate; this recipe was definitely on the richer, full-flavored side. Anyone that loves uni (like me!) would probably take a liking to that. I’ll definitely make this again.