Empellón-Grade Sea Urchin Guacamole Tacos

by Elysian Magazine

In the spirit of adventure, try this…

For those of us with an appetite for adventure, try something adventurous to satisfy your appetite—sea urchins. A savory substitute for lobster or shrimp, they have a wonderful flavor and are popular off coastal shores, such as Japan and throughout the Mediterranean. There are three ways to obtain sea urchins. One, at a restaurant that offers sea urchin. Two, at New York’s famous Fulton Fish Market (www.fultonfishmarket.com), where you can buy just about anything in the sea ($45 for a quarter of a pound.,) Or dive for them.

Sea urchins are commonly found off rocky coastal waters, clinging to the rocks. Apart from your diving gear, you’ll need a knife and a pair of protective waterproof gloves to pry them from the rocks. A sea urchin’s sting is painful but not dangerous. Nonetheless, keep the wound clean to avoid infection. As you harvest sea urchins, avoid the totally black ones. Choose ones that have a touch of green, red, or purple. (No, I don’t know exactly why but do as the experts say.) There are 18 edible varieties.

The “meat” of the sea urchin—called uni, in Japan—is in the internal walls of their sharp, needle-like, spiny shell. It must be absolutely fresh, and you’ll know immediately if it’s not because it will smell “fishy.” So, best prepare them soon after they come out of the water—and yes, sea urchins can be eaten live, right out the shell, like an oyster.

The meat consists of five orange pieces; these are the sea animal’s reproductive organs. (Don’t freak—it’s no different from eating Rocky Mountain Oysters.) To get at the meat, puncture the underside of the sea urchin with a scissors, spoon, or paring knife (keep those gloves on!) and allow the liquid to drain. Next, cut a hole in the bottom of the shell and carefully remove the black, internal parts (dispose of, as these are not for eating!) Then they’re ready to prepare.

Sea urchin is considered a great delicacy and, like oysters, are a strong aphrodisiac. They’re best served with white wine or saki. Enjoy!

The recipe is courtesy of Alex Stupak on Food Republic.

Empellón-Grade Sea Urchin Guacamole Tacos

Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


Sea urchin salsa

  • 36 sea urchin tongues
  •  3 canned chipotle chilies, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Maldon, or flaky salt, as needed



  • 2 Hass avocados
  • 1/2 medium white onion, minced
  • 1 serrano chile, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 60 cilantro leaves (from about 15 sprigs), roughly chopped
  • Maldon, or flaky salt, as needed
  • 72 sea urchin tongues



  • 48 sea urchin tongues
  • Maldon, or flaky salt, as needed
  • 1/2 medium white onion, minced
  • 60 cilantro leaves (from about 15 sprigs), roughly chopped
  • 2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges
  • 12 tortillas


For the sea urchin salsa

  1. In a small bowl, combine the 36 sea urchin tongues with the chipotles, sugar, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and Maldon salt.
  2. Use a fork to gently crush the ingredients together. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the filling

  1. Cut open the avocados, remove their pits, and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Add the ½ minced white onion, serrano chile, 3 tablespoons lime juice, chopped cilantro, Maldon salt, and 72 sea urchin tongues.
  2. Use a fork or an avocado masher to gently mash the guacamole and set it aside. Make one batch of tortillas and hold them warm.

For the assembly

  1. Lay out the warm tortillas on serving plates. Place a few tablespoons of the sea urchin guacamole on each tortilla and evenly distribute the 48 urchin tongues among the tacos.
  2. Season with salt and top with the sea urchin salsa, minced onion, and chopped cilantro.
  3. Squeeze a couple of the lime wedges over the tacos and serve the rest on the side.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy