How to collect urchins' caviar & other summer stories
Summer is not over yet, the warm days are still holding well and everything is perfect for me to remember that day! That day’s plan was to catch up to the sea to collect some sea urchins for their caviar! (Until today I didn’t know how sea urchins were called in English. This blog is such a constructive hobby after all.) I don’t want to hear any bliahh sound, their caviar is the most delicious thing on earth.
You will need: a rocky, clean, secluded beach, umbrella-towels-swimwear and stuff, flippers, scuba wetsuit (optional), scuba gloves- diving-mask -respirator (mandatory), a net (for the sea urchins), lemons-olive oil- bread (for the eating process ), a sharp knife, rain (optional)
Procedure: You arrive at the beach and you realize that in a while Noah's cataclysm will take place. Nevertheless, you are undaunted and you lay out your mats and you go for a dive in the sea. Suddenly, you realize that it’s hailing cats and dogs. The “hail” rain falls so hard on your skin that it hurt. (Damn, If I didn’t know for sure that we go through summer, I may have my doubts about the form of the water.) You run with the speed of light under your umbrella and you lower it so that it will seem more like a tent and less like a umbrella. The car’s protection is so très banal by the way. All things are wet and you fight to the death to keep dry and safe all your electronics with the last dry towel of yours. Something that has proven to be extremely difficult when the umbrella has some holes here and there. The other, wet, towels provide you with some "warmth", as you are enjoying the spectacular thunders, which are competing to open the sky in two. Eventually the storm subsides, as today it’s not a good day for the world’s total destruction. So, now it’s time for sea urchins! You wear the scuba wetsuit (Normally it fits perfectly, it’s me that I come in minion sizes and I look like a potato bag.) Before diving, you spot an oversized crab. He seems to be a really funny fella. After plenty of dives, you come out with the prize. A net full of female sea urchins. Congratulations, you're the best and PLUS you made the day!
So this was the perfect recipe for an adventure! Now we move to the tasty subject: the sea urchins’ caviar.
First of all, it’s an unwritten rule that we gather sea urchins only from guaranteed clean rocky beaches. Another unwritten rule is that we clean and eat them on the beach, because: 1) you do not want thorns in your kitchen sponge and 2) it’s a must to use the sea’s salt water to clean them. Otherwise, the tap water and the salt that you may use will make them tasteless and not-your-piece-of-cake-for-the-dinner. If conditions won’t allow the cleaning by the sea prepare yourself for “the nightmare with the thorns” and take with you 1-2 bottles of seawater.
Also, you must wear a mask, a respirator and scuba gloves snorkel-diving to collect them with ease and to have with a net to put them in. You are searching for brown/purple female sea urchins. Through the reflections of the water, you will separate easily from the total black males. The females have usually stuck on their thorns pieces of white seaweed.
The perfect time to catch them are the warm summer months (July-August), when the water is warm. The aim is to prevent them before giving birth (late August). For those who have not seen them packed with eggs, the perfect caviar has bright orange color and rich presence in the body. After you open them along in the middle with the knife (while wearing the gloves), break the various vesicles and rinse with salt water until you have only the orange caviar in its body. Squeeze a few drops of lemon and olive oil in a mouthful of bread wipe the contents of the sea urchin. The caviar smells sea saltiness and tickles your palate with its mild sweet flavor, combined with the slight lemon’s sourness and the rich taste of olive oil. And all these rich flavors soak through the crispy bread, one step away from the waves! True bliss!
I hope you are doing well! PS: Check Vol. 2 too!