How Sea Urchin (Uni) Is Processed Commercially — How to Make It

How Sea Urchin (Uni) Is Processed Commercially — How to Make It


(chopping sounds) – This is really therapeutic. (laughs) (upbeat techno music) I’ve used uni all throughout my career. It’s basically umami that’s
already created for you. It’s also called fish
butter, butter of the sea. Nowadays, you don’t see
it just plopped on sushi. The possibilities are endless. I receive it in a very
expensive little wooden tray and we are here to see that
process from the beginning. (energetic techno music) We’re about to bring out some sea urchin. How did these get here? – We got one boat coming
from Santa Barbara Island, which is a small island
about 20 miles from shore. We got another one from
San Clemente Island, which is about 60 miles from shore. – So they’re sorted in here by boat, and then we’re gonna bring ’em out– – Absolutely, yeah. – Over here to sort. – Yeah. – [Katie] They’re diving for these, they’re picking them individually by hand. – They’re picking ’em
individually by hand, one by one. This boat had to go 90
feet, around 90 feet. – Oh, wow. – Yeah, around 90 to 100 feet. (energetic techno music) Give it a little whack, yup. And try to split it, there you go. – Got it. – [Mark] Yeah, the mouth,
look for the mouth. There you go, you got it. (chopping noises) There you go, there you go. – Ooh, I kinda like it. We’re sticking it in
the mouth, or the beak. – [Mark] And crack it, there you go. – [Katie] So there’s
five pieces per urchin. – [Mark] There’s five tongues, yup. – I thought that there was one per, there’s actually five per urchin. After they’re cracked open, we’re gonna scoop ’em out. – [Mark] Without damaging them. – Got it, that’s the biggest part. So this is salt water. – [Mark] Yup. – [Katie] What happens if I
accidentally slice into one? – They drop a grade. So they usually drop, you
know, a couple of dollars. – Maybe we don’t want me over here in this part of the process. I’m kind of holding my breath, ’cause I know that one wrong move or if I’m not working delicately enough, that is directly costing him money. We’ve scooped the urchin and
now we’re starting to clean it. – And as you can see already here, there’s a bunch of different
colors for the sea urchin. – Let’s talk a little bit about that. We’re in California, so let’s
talk California verse Japan. – Right, it’s a different
species in Japan. The size is obviously different,
the feed is different. You know, the Japan sea
urchin is very good as well. – [Katie] Is this good enough to move on? – [Mark] Yup, that’s okay. We’re picking out the premium. – [Katie] So this is the premium. These blue trays are top grade. – [Mark] Yup. – The sorting for grading is starting to happen right now already. – We sort out the premiums here because we process the premiums
a little bit differently than the other grades. – [Katie] So grading is
based on color and firmness? – [Mark] Color, firmness, dryness. – [Katie] Dryness. – [Mark] Did you wanna try one? – [Katie] Oh my gosh, this is amazing. – [Mark] You could try that color first. – [Katie] So this is premium. – [Mark] This is the premium grade, right. – It’s so sweet, and like salty. – [Mark] Straight out of the shell. And this is–
– Wow. – [Mark] A little bit more orange-ish. – Wow, I’ve never had it
this fresh ever before. – [Mark] A little bit different. – It’s very subtle, but
it is 100% a difference. – Yeah, out of about 1,000
pounds of sea urchin, we get maybe five to ten
trays of the premiums, so– – Wow. So what are the different grades? Premium– – We do premium, number one,
number two, number three. It goes into the alum soaking tank. The alum is a firming agent. – How long does that take? – Sometimes it’s as quick as ten minutes, sometimes it’s, you know, 40 minutes. – ‘Cause it’s all about
the texture, you know. – Texture and then, you know you want to keep the juice in there too, just ’cause a lot of
the flavor is in that. (energetic techno music) We do the final cleaning stage. – [Katie] So you’re
continuing to clean them. – Yup. This is Roberto. He’s been with us for 37 years. – 37 years. So we’re tweezing out
any remaining impurities. I am not a stranger to tweezer work. I’ve never been this
nervous doing tweezer work, ’cause I just am really
trying not to damage the uni. I’m beginning to understand
why that little wooden tray– – Mm-hm, costs so much. – Costs so much. Where is all this uni going? – We do a lot of
restaurants in Los Angeles, we do a lot of wholesale. – [Katie] You can order this online. – Yeah. – How am I doing? Too slow? – No, no, no, it’s okay. (laughs) – [Katie] Too slow. – Clean again. – This was probably one of my trays. Gimme two seconds, gimme 30 minutes. Ooh, one stack. So now we are finally
at the packaging stage. This is what I’m used to seeing. – And this is that premium grade we were talking about earlier. Anywhere from five to ten
trays every 1,000 pounds. – Wow, how much is this retail? – This retail we sell it for $85. And it’s 250 grams. – Wow. – These we deliver to the restaurants. – Within a day of coming out of the water. – Right. A lot of the restaurants,
they make the mistake of, even the sushi restaurants, while they’re using it, they leave it out on the counter. And they leave it out for like an hour. Or even in the kitchen. So that will affect the
taste and the shelf life. This is Bertha, Katie. She’s been with us for 40 years. – [Katie] 40 years, from the beginning. – From the beginning. We only have maybe two or three ladies that pack this tray. – [Katie] Right. (energetic techno music) – [Mark] Did you make that? That was yours? – Yeah. – [Mark] Not bad. – Hard judgment going on right now. It’s an unbelievable amount of work to get it to this point. – We also have another
uni which is no alum. It’s all natural. – Oh, wow. – Completely straight out of the shell like you had over there. – Right. – The first two pieces that you had. I’m gonna show you that station. – So over here we’re going straight from getting them out of
the shell and cleaning and we’re keeping them in that salt water that they were just pulled from. – Yup, 100 gram trays of water packs. (energetic techno music) – [Katie] Wow, so who’s buying this stuff? – [Mark] This, it goes to a a
lot of our retail customers. And right now there’s some restaurants that are catching on. – I didn’t even know
this existed until now. – Not many people do, so that’s why I’m glad I was
able to tell you about it. – [Katie] It’s really cool to see this. – [Mark] This here is a metal tray. These are 100 gram trays. And they’re a little bit more compact. – [Katie] So then from here,
these are packed for FedEx. – [Mark] Yeah, yeah. – [Katie] Okay. – [Mark] So this is what Katie made today. – Four packages of uni, going to Eater. (tape ripping) This was a really special one for me because my whole career in kitchens, I received that little
wooden box of perfection. – Right. – But I never knew what went into it. How it got to that point. So this was really, really cool to see it from the beginning. Thanks for watching this
episode of How to Make It. For more episodes, click here. And we’re going straight down. – We’re going straight down, we gonna make a cylinder now. (whirring of chainsaw motor)

100 thoughts on “How Sea Urchin (Uni) Is Processed Commercially — How to Make It

  1. I had this when I was in Egypt . OMG the most amazing thing I ever ate in my life. I cant explain how delicious it is ,no words could describe it .

  2. Stepped on a sea urchin and was limping for 2 weeks. They finally broke apart on their own. These days im going to the Japanese restaurant to eat 2 portions of them as a revenge

  3. So buttery! Urchin is my fave!
    Urchin is the butter of the ocean. Mud crab is the bacon of the sea.
    Put them together and you have unlocked a road to HEAVEN!

  4. Good God I love Uni. I hope they know their breeding cycles so they aren't out-fished. But, I would love someone to invite me to go fishing for them! How interesting and fun.

  5. Not trying to be all pious, but I wonder what the sustainability is like on these?

  6. I don't know I just think it's so sad. The sea and these animals can't sustain itself forever. I do think it's overfished. Someday there will not be any more left. Do to greedy humans. And their desire for more more more.

  7. This is my favorite food!!!! Our favorite favorite food!!❤️❤️❤️ I’m from Bohol, Philippines😊❤️We can even just go to the shore when it’s lowtide and pick some sea urchins, crack them and eat them🤤🤤🤤🤤❣️❣️

  8. People who feel's bad these Uni's or Urchin just remember they reproduce in MASS they reproduce alot

  9. 🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮🤮

  10. What a joke $85 for 250g of your so called premium urchin these are small baby ones compared to ours We call these kina in Aotearoa (NZ) an I got to say our kina are more bigger fat creamy an dam good tasting you call it premium hahahaha we call it season certain time of the year they are at there best

  11. Im curious though.. doesnt washing it wash away alot of the flavour?? My fam only eats fresh from the shell but I know thats not possible for everyone.

  12. I’m glad that the sea urchins are being used for food. They love to eat kelp in California, and because of their over consumption of kelp, the forest are depleting. So by eating these little guys, humans help keep them in check, which also helps maintain the growth of the kelp forest for other forms of wildlife. I want to try uni!!! 😄

  13. Seems cruel, smashing their mouth open and popping them apart…. Why doesn't it matter when its a sea animal?

  14. I was annoyed by youtube keeps showing this to my recommendation although I've had clicked not interested button.

    You glad now, Youtube?

  15. She kind of looks like that lady who was on kitchen nightmares. I think the store was called Amy’s pizza or something

  16. I have never had uni
    It's so expensive
    And the only place that sells it cheap rarely has it
    Be ause it's out of stock so fast
    ;-;

  17. Lmao!!! People are stupid to pay for Uni (sea urchin) I could
    Just go dive here in Cali collect 35 (state limit) and crack them open and eat them.

  18. I. Had. Test. It ind. Soden. Italie. An. It. Test as. You. Get. A. Ocean watter. In. Your. Muth. In. It. A. Orgely. Testing. As. Sure. . Periot. An not. Descousinon. Abouth. It.

  19. I have only had it once and it was sooooooooooooo disgusting, like barf 🤢 My Son said it must have been rotten.

  20. Urchin's are a pest here in Australia. They destroy kelp fields which hold rich marine habitat's. The more we fish and eat urchin's, the better.

  21. Here in the Philippines esp. in rural areas near the sea the people esp. women and children go hunt for them on a low tide and they come out in abundance . .the black ones with very long hairy needlles we call them TUYOM ..and the other species which is most likely featured in the video …we call them SUWAKI .and they're delicious esp eaten fresh .

  22. First time ive felt bad for an animal during processing, like dude, my mans lives in there and you're just ripping his only defence to shreds.

  23. wanna see new zealand sea urchins checkout these juicy giants https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7uvtJpzrnU 😜😜

  24. first time I ever had experience with sea urchins was in a beach in Australia, plenty and wasn't sure what it was but one of the locals showed me you can eat it and eat it raw. it's awesome

  25. To kill so many animals for something that has the texture of a fibrous custard and the taste of dirty sea water is really nuts

  26. Let me be the negative guy here. Why don't we stick to domestic animals to eat (which still contributes a lot to global crisis)? Just to satisfy some taste buds, we are all destroying the eco-system. Can we live without eating the sea urchin or other life forms? It may be Hard start but a safer future (we need to plant more trees too).

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