Recipe of the week: Sea urchin carbonara

Who doesn’t love a carbonara – the combination of pasta with egg, cheese, pork and a hefty amount of black pepper is just dreamy. All the textures and flavors meld together to make one of the most delectable dishes to ever come out of Rome. Technically it has to be a perfect balance of ingredients, a little too much of one throws the entire dish out of balance. After getting more involved in Japanese cuisine, and experiencing their love of Italian food it dawned on Chef that there had to be a way to meld ingredients that were purely Japanese with a classic Italian dish, and Sea Urchin Carbonara was born.

Innately uni (sea urchin) has the same texture as a custard. When a dollop of uni is put on a plate of freshly boiled pasta it melts, oozes one might say. However, what one wants from the uni in this dish is for it to retain its flavor so it adds a slight funkiness that one would normally get from the Pecorino Romano in the classic recipe. It would be sacrilegious to add cheese. Then the artistry comes in. The angel hair is cooked to al dente, and then coated in the rich creamy broth of butter mixed with Santa Barbara sea urchin. The uni is from Santa Barbara which has a stronger flavor than the uni that comes from Japan or Maine. In place of pork, sea lettuce which counters all the creaminess and adds a crunchy texture is used. Sea urchin and egg yolk is a perfect match, the velvety texture of the softly scrambled yolk with the sauce is pure decadence, against the al dente pasta, it all really works well together.


1.5 oz angel hair pasta
4.5 oz butter
½ oz soy sauce
½ oz lime juice
1 egg
½ oz mixed sea lettuce
¼ chives, cut into 2” lengths
1¼ oz Santa Barbara sea urchin tongues
Lime zest to taste


Bring water to a boil in a 6 quart pot with 2 tbsp salt. In a medium saucepan, heat butter over a low flame. When butter is almost melted, add soy sauce, lime juice and egg. Whisk to froth. Add al dente angel hair pasta. Add sea urchin, sea lettuce, chives and lime zest. Mix until simmering bubbles appear.

Thank you to Chef/Owner Marco Morier from 15 East @ Tocqueville, New York, USA, for the recipe.

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Comments (3)

  1. Graham says:

    In my humble opinion adding cheese to shellfish is always sacrilegious …. then again white fish is another issue … almost sacrilegious not to!

  2. Ellen says:

    Some of my foodie friends are quite dismissive of fusion cuisine, “Why mess about with two different styles of food?” They complain.

    This great idea of blending Japanese and Italian and put together in America would be a great way to prove them wrong.

  3. Kathleen says:

    I love the good old carbonara with the egg yolk, pancetta, and lots of creamy cheese. But I have also tried a seafood carbonara before. I find that I love the more traditional recipe though I would venture a taste of a sea urchin carbonara. Sea urchin is a bit briny and salty and the cream in the carbonara might just be the thing that breaks up its saltiness. Gotta try to see!

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