British Columbia Our Vancouver

How to enjoy fresh B.C. sea urchin at home

They might be prickly to handle — but they're worth it, says local seafood aficionado

for CBC News

November 20, 2016

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Fish seller Jenice Yu shows us how to prepare sea urchin dishes at home  4:55

It might look like it's from outer space — but the sea urchin is as local as it gets.

And according to one seafood aficionado, there's no better time of year to get a taste of the delicious "sea hedgehogs".

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The water on B.C.'s coast is ​coldest from September to March. And Jenice Yu says the cold water improves the taste of this ocean delicacy. 

Yu owns Fresh Ideas Start Here (or FISH) — a one stop-shop for seafood cooking tips and recipes.

She joined host Gloria Macarenko on CBC's Our Vancouver to share some ideas on how to prepare a locally-sourced sea urchin.

First, Yu suggests buying urchins from divers and fish mongers you trust to make sure they are freshly caught.

The sea urchins can be a bit prickly, so make sure you wear a set of gloves to protect your hands. (CBC)

When preparing urchin at home, put on some gloves to protect yourself from the spikes. Yu uses scissors and her hands to break open the urchin shell, where there are usually five segments of roe inside. 

She uses a spoon to scoop out the meat, and puts it in a water brine once out of the shell.

The traditional way to eat urchin is placing it on a plate of udon noodles or rice. But Yu suggests it can also be put onto a scallop with some cilantro dressing. 

"Sea urchin tastes like the ocean in a good way. Light and kind of salty," she said.

Yu also makes a crab-style dip with urchin.

She says the dip is cheesy and great for parties and potlucks, and is a great way to introduce sea urchin to people who have never tried it.

She says sea urchin is growing in popularity.

"People are more adventurous and people know it is a sustainable product from B.C., and customers always want to know where their food comes from."

To Watch Jenice Yu prepare the dishes with Gloria Macarenko on Our Vancouver, click here.

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