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You’ve Gotta Eat This: Santa Barbara Sea Urchin

You’ve Gotta Eat This: Santa Barbara Sea Urchin

What is it? You know those slow moving spiky “sea hedgehogs”? Those are sea urchins, and wouldn’t you know – they’re actually pretty damn tasty.

(Photo: Matt Chan/Flickr)

Where can you get it? These guys are culinary delicacies in many parts of the world, including Santa Barbara in California. Cali’s only female sea urchin diver is Stephanie Mutz, who’s a passionate former marine biologist who makes a living deep sea diving for these spiking creatures and supplying them to some of LA’s top restaurants. Urchin diving is a completely sustainable practice, and as there’s no factory fishing there, only small catches by people like Stephanie. If you’re interested in how it’s all done – check out this little profile here.

What’s in it? This delicacy is so coveted it’s even earned the name ‘California Gold’. But here’s where it gets a little interesting. As you can’t eat the hard outer shell of the sea urchin, chefs must cut open that spiky outer layer with great care as the spikes still wriggle around once the shell is cracked.

Also the edible part? It’s actually the sea urchin’s uni, or testes. But, hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.

(Photo: Roger Braunstein/Flickr)

How much does it cost? You can grab them yourself from wholesale markets and fish shops and they cost about $10 each, or else you’re bound to find them littered across LA menus.

Intrigued? Check out Qantas flights to LA here.

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