The Scuba Chef: The Magical Flavor of Fresh Sea Urchin

When I was 13 my father took me camping at Rosarito Beach on the Pacific side of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. We set up our tent right on the beach. The next day a local fisherman took us on his small wooden boat to a shallow reef just a half-mile off the coast. It is a day I’ll never forget — it was the day I discovered the magical flavor of sea urchin fresh from the ocean. The bright orange roe was firm and possessed a slightly sweet and salty flavor unlike anything I had ever tasted.  

There is no set season for taking sea urchins. The bag limit is 35, and you do need a fishing license. Remember, “Always ‘Stay Legal,’ and never take more than you’ll eat.”
— Trevor Cook, Scuba Chef 
Linguine with  Sea Urchin Cream Sauce
Serves 4 
Ingredients
4-6 oz. fresh red sea urchin roe 
(Each live urchin will yield 
about an ounce of roe)
4 oz. linguine
6 oz. heavy cream
6 tablespoons 
softened unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic 
Sea salt and white pepper to taste
3 sprigs fresh thyme for garnish
Shaved Parmesan cheese for garnish
2 oz. caviar of choice, optional
Directions
Using a folded towel or glove, hold the urchin with the flatter side and tube feet facing up. Carefully cut around the outer perimeter of the “circle” formed by the feet; remove the hard parts of the feet and mouth. Gently scrape away the black portion of the innards to reveal the five separated sections of bright orange roe. Remove the roe with a spoon.
In a mixing bowl combine the roe and softened butter, and blend well with a fork. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours.
Prepare linguine as directed. Drain and set aside. 
In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about two minutes. Add the heavy cream and simmer, stirring occasionally until it reduces by half. Salt and pepper lightly, and simmer for another five minutes. Reduce heat to low and add chilled urchin butter one tablespoon at a time while stirring gently. Add cooked pasta and cook over medium heat for several minutes, mixing well to coat pasta completely.
Garnish with fresh thyme and shaved Parmesan cheese and top with a spoonful of caviar. Enjoy immediately. 
Wine Pairing 
Linguine with Sea Urchin Cream Sauce and other rich, creamy seafood dishes pair well with crisp, dry white wines such as Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc. Other wines to consider include unoaked Chardonnay, Savennières or Grüner Veltliner. Avoid heavy reds. 
About Sea Urchins Closely related to sea stars, sea urchins are echinoderms. 
The skeleton of a sea urchin is known as a test. 
The name urchin is derived from the Middle English urchone, meaning hedgehog.
Worldwide there are over seven hundred species of sea urchins. 
According to MotherNatureNews.com, the red sea urchin featured in this recipe is one of the longer living creatures on earth. Some individuals live as long as 200 years. 
California Diving News © 2016