Echizen uni(越前うに in Japanese) is salted sea urchin. Echizen(越前) is the name of a region in Fukui. Uni(うに), or sea urchin, is a small sea creature with a round shell covered with spikes. Echizen uni is a specialty of Fukui.
Do you know what the top three delicacies are in the West? (By delicacies, I mean foods that are rare and delicious.)
They’re foie gras, caviar, and truffles.
Do you know what the top three delicacies in Japan are?
They’re Echizen uni, konowata, which issalted sea cucumber guts from Mikawa, and karasumi, ordried mullet roe from Nagasaki.
Echizen uni is one of the top three delicacies in Japan. Since it’s rare and delicious, it was often given as gifts for the imperial court and the shogunate. In the past, ordinary people couldn’t eat it because it was very expensive.
The fishing season for uni only lasts for about a month in summer. However, you can eat it throughout the year.
There’s an uni shop in Fukui called Tentatsu(天たつ in Japanese), which was founded in 1804. Tentatsu was the purveyor to the lords of the Echizen Fukui domain. It has a long history and a lot of influence in the area. Even Emperor Showa ate uni from Tentatsu. You can buy salted sea urchin, called Echizen shitate shio uni (越前仕立て汐うに), there.
Echizen shitate shio uni is made from Japanese green sea urchin roe and salt. No additives or preservatives are used. To make 100 grams of pickled sea urchin, you’d need more than 100 sea urchins.
You can buy salted sea urchins as a gift or for yourself at Tentatsu. The gifts are presented in fine wooden boxes, and the ones you can buy for home are presented in plastic cases. The gift ones are more expensive than regular ones, but the contents are the same. If you want to eat it by yourself, you should buy one for home. The salted sea urchins can be stored at room temperature for two or three days, or in the refrigerator for a month.
Echizen uni is very rare and expensive, so you have to eat it little by little with chopsticks or a spoon. It goes well with hot rice and sake, or rice wine.
You can buy several kinds of uni at Tentatsu. I bought 11 grams of Echizen shitate shio uni, which is a salted sea urchin made in Fukui, to take home for 2,160 yen. I had it at home.
First, I ate the uni by itself. As soon as I put a small amount of it in my mouth, a rich, salty taste spread throughout my mouth and a beautiful ocean view flashed into my mind. The taste remained in my mouth for a long time. Now I understand why uni is one of the top three delicacies in Japan.
Next, I tried it with hot rice. It went well with the hot rice and it made me want to eat a lot of rice. It was really luxurious.
If you don’t have rice or sake, don’t worry about it. It’s delicious even by itself. Actually, I prefer to eat it alone than with hot rice.
Where can you buy Echizen shitate shio uni (越前仕立て汐うに)?
You can buy it at Tentatsu(天たつ), which is in Prism Fukui at Fukui Station, and at Tentatsu Honten. I recommend buying it at Tentatsu in Prism Fukui because it’s open all year round.
Echizen uni is one of the top three delicacies in Japan. Don’t you want to try it? You’ll never forget it if you do.
Tentatsu in Prism Fukui at Fukui Station is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
It’s open 365 days a year.