While my husband and I were living in Naples, we took a weekend trip to the Gargano region on the eastern coast. There, at a restaurant perched on a bluff teetering over the Adriatic, I tasted sea urchin, I mean really tasted it. Caught the same day, the orange gemlike morsels of roe were still glistening in their thorny half shells. I have struggled with shucking oysters enough to know that if someone handed me a bag of freshly caught sea urchin, he would also be dialing 911 shortly thereafter.
But when I came across an episode of Rick Stein's show featuring a spaghetti dish comprising sea urchin roe, olive oil and garlic, I was determined to find good quality roe so I could make the recipe. Thankfully I live in New York City, and a lovely Japanese market in the East Village had some cleaned and packaged, and fresh smelling urchin. No need to handle the prickly suckers myself.
This pasta dish tastes truly of the sea. The urchin, melted in the garlicky olive oil, sticks lovingly to the tendrils of spaghetti, all the while retaining its briny essence. With every bite, I miss Italy a little more. —GSmodden
Cook the spaghetti according to package instructions in salted water.
While the spaghetti is half way done, start making the sauce.
Heat the olive oil and fry the garlic until fragrant. Tip in the sea urchin roe.
On medium to low heat let the urchin break down for a few minutes until a sauce is created. Add a splash of white wine.
Continue to let the sauce come together. Don't break up the roe completely. It's nice to get occasional nuggets of urchin roe with a bite of pasta.
Add in the chopped parsley and crushed red pepper flakes.
When the pasta is done, add it to the skillet with the sauce. Baptize the dish with a few splashes of the pasta water. Adjust the salt to taste. Top with a bit more parsley for color if you wish. Serve immediately.