Long considered a delicacy in Japan for their purported aphrodisiac qualities, the red sea urchin is a popular fixture on the menus of many British Columbia sushi restaurants. Sea urchins both red and the more common green are also used in Italian and Greek cuisine.
According to BC Seafood Online, the porcupine-like red sea urchins are still harvested by hand the traditional way using stainless steel rakes to pick the urchins from the rocks or via deep sea diving. However, on the East Coast, trawlers are often used.
Here’s a great photo blog that shows more information about urchin harvesting.
Chow.Com states that the red sea urchin is found throughout northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Red, green, and purple sea urchins are harvested on the American Pacific coast. Green sea urchins are commercially harvested on the American Atlantic coast. The largest American producers are California for red urchins and Maine for green urchins. Peak season for red urchins is October to May; peak season for green urchins is November to March.Fresh urchin roe and whole urchin are available year round with a peak period of September to April. Urchin roe is also available frozen year round, especially in Asian supermarkets.
A few sea urchin recipes…
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