Uni Don: Sea Urchin With Japanese Rice & Pickled Beetroot

Uni Don: Sea Urchin With Japanese Rice & Pickled Beetroot


"In trying to understand the food of Japan, you first need to understand Japanese rice (after a few years of study, you could then move on to the soy bean in all its forms).

Donburi just means a bowl of rice. Usually it is topped with meat and vegetables that have been simmered together. Every region of Japan has its own version of donburi; sometimes it is just topped with perfectly fresh raw fish. Uni don is a great way of eating sea urchin – the rice provides the body of the meal and the sea urchin shines in all its unadulterated glory.

Make the pickled beetroot at least half a day before serving, although it’s best made a few days ahead (it will keep for up to a month in a sealed container in the fridge).” The Gourmet Farmer 

Serves 4

420 g (15 oz/2 cups) sushi rice
1 piece dried kombu (konbu) seaweed
200 g (7 oz) fresh sea urchin roe
100 g (3½ oz) salmon roe
½ sheet nori seaweed
thinly sliced spring onions (scallions), to garnish
80 ml (2½ fl oz/1/³ cup) Japanese soy sauce, to serve
wasabi, to serve (optional)

Pickled beetroot
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) rice vinegar
165 g (5¾ oz/¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
300 ml (10½ fl oz) water
50 g (1¾ oz) sea salt
50 ml (1¾ fl oz) mirin (rice wine)
1 large beetroot (beet), top removed, peeled and sliced as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you can)

1 For the pickled beetroot, bring the vinegar, sugar, water, salt and mirin to the boil in a medium saucepan. Pour over the sliced beetroot, leaving a little space at the top. Set aside to cool, then seal in a glass jar with a lid, or a plastic container, and refrigerate.
2 Wash the rice well in cold water until the water runs clear. Place the kombu in a saucepan with the rice and cook the rice using the absorption method.
3 Spoon the cooked rice into four bowls and arrange the sea urchin on top. Spoon the salmon roe over. Using tongs, toast the nori by waving it over a flame for about 20 seconds, until crisp, taking care not to burn it. Crumble and sprinkle the nori over the rice. Scatter the spring onion over.
4 Serve the uni don with pickled beetroot on the side, with soy sauce and wasabi, if desired.

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Recipe and image from The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara, published by Murdoch Books.