Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges

 Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges
Black Bread, Butter, Jalapeño, Yuzu, Maldon Salt

I was sitting in the dining room of my virtual restaurant, the Borage & Basil Bistro, reading about Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Santa Barbara Sea Urchin.

“This dish is the perfect example of how uncluttered Jean-Georges’ cuisine is, as well as the volumes he can make his dishes speak. The bright iodine from the uni marries perfectly with the buttered pumpernickel toast. It’s just delicious from both a textural and flavorful standpoint,” said Chef Wylie Dufresne.

Contemplating getting on a plane to NYC to try this utterly sublime dish, it occurred to me how silly it would be to travel across the country from LA – to eat Santa Barbara uni! 

Not only is the uni local, we also have the rare yuzu tree (an important component of this dish) growing in our garden. So that is how Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges ended up as the appetizer on tonight’s dinner menu at the Borage & Basil Bistro, this summer’s virtual restaurant where all the menu items feature fresh snipped herbs, exotic ripe fruits, and edible flowers from our garden.

With its salty, clean ocean scent and hues of gold and deep orange, its sweet, exotic, haunting taste and creamy, buttery texture – the captivating sea urchin roe makes for an elegant appetizer, indeed.

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges Recipe

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Sea Urchin Bisque

Sea Urchin Bisque

Sea Urchin Bisque

With its salty, clean ocean scent and hues of gold, yellow and orange, its sweet, crisp, lingering taste and creamy, buttery texture – the captivating sea urchin roe makes for an elegant bisque and its skeleton provides the vessel for a most dramatic presentation… perfect for New Year’s Eve dinner!

Sea Urchin Bisque

How to Clean a Sea Urchin

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Do You Know How To Clean A Sea Urchin?

how to open fresh uni, sea urchin

Fresh Sea Urchin
Meyer Lemon Juice, Single Varietal Olive Oil, Sea Salt

For me, the Farmers Market can be a dangerous place. No, not in the sense of personal safety, but hazardous for my wallet. Last weekend I came home with heirloom baby cherry tomatoes, wild arugula, avocados, fresh salmon. All intended for dinner that night. But also in the shopping bag were yu choy, epazote, unique baby red-speckled romaine, single varietal olive oil, a bottle of safe & organic pesticide purchased from the woman who invented it, and a live sea urchin harvested just down the coast off Dana Point. Impulse purchases.

Decades ago when sushi was just becoming popular here, a date took me out to a sushi bar. He warned, “Don’t order uni, it’s disgusting.” Months (or years?) later I tasted it, and could not believe what I had been missing! I was intoxicated with the exotic, mysterious gonads of a spiky purple sea creature. Over the years I’ve enjoyed uni sushi dozens of times, and have bought many little trays of fresh uni from the Japanese market for various dishes, but until last weekend, I had never handled nor cleaned a live sea urchin.

Sharing the joys of cooking with friends in my kitchen and through Taste With The Eyes is a pleasure and a passion. Should someone one day ask, “Hey Lori Lynn, do you know how to clean a sea urchin?” I want to be able to say, “Sure, let me show you.” And that’s why a live sea urchin ended up in my shopping basket…

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