One of the greatest meals I’ve ever had was a sea urchin pasta, eaten overlooking a beach in Paxos. We were at a cookery demonstration by Spiros, owner of Bar Taxidi in Loggos (surely the bar with the best view in the world?). Earlier that morning we had watched a boy diving into the beautiful clear sea by the bar, eventually emerging with a bucket of urchins. Spiros and an Italian-Greek friend of his then prepared this simple, yet absolutely amazing dish using the roe.
Sea urchins aren’t that easy to come by, so when I saw some this week in Moxon's, I snapped them up. A good fishmonger should be able to order them in for you though, depending on the time of year. Make sure you use the best quality spaghetti you can get, as this dish is all about simplicity and quality.
Cooking time: 10 mins
4 sea urchins (these keep in the fridge for a couple of days, wrapped in damp paper) Juice of half a lemon Olive oil A handful of chopped parsley 400g spaghetti 1 clove of garlic Salt to season
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for the spaghetti.
- Prepare the sea urchins by cutting in through the hole at the bottom and around the ‘equator’. Carefully remove the pink roe with a teaspoon and rinse in cold water.
- Put the garlic, lemon juice and roe in a blender, leaving some roe for the garnish.
- On a slow blend, pour in the olive oil until you get a sauce the consistency of double cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
- When the spaghetti is cooked, drain it and pour in the sauce, leave it to stand for a moment or two, then toss through the parsley. Serve and garnish with the remaining roe.
How to food style it
- I had fun with the urchin shells here. I cleaned and boiled them and scraped the spines off. These gave me little ready-made bowls for them, but if you are serving them as a main course, you’ll either need a lot of shells, or just use a plate.
- This is a delicate dish, so it’s nice to really carefully wind the spaghetti onto the plate. A few drops of lemon oil around the edge work well, giving it vibrancy and contrast.