Kina (sea urchin) and soft shell crab sushi

It’s a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to eat sea urchin roe (kina in NZ, uni in Japan). It is available occasionally here in Australia, in small frozen tubs from NZ, but it’s not at its best. So when I saw it on the menu at  freshsushico in the James St Market in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, naturally I tried it.

The hand roll contained sushi rice, a fairly generous amount of sea urchin roe and a slice of cucumber. This is definately a great way to eat kina! I can’t really descibe the flavour of kina, it tastes like the sea smells, sort of salty and maybe of iodine and a bit organic,  yet at the same time it doesn’t taste all that salty. It is actually quite sweet and the texture is creamy. I have heard it called the taste of the ocean, and I think that describes it perfectly. I think it is a food you either love or hate.

The second hand roll that caught my eye was soft shell crab. I have heard what a delicacy these are, and on my last trip to NZ I bought a couple at the supermarket and fried them in a pan. As you can see, I didn’t do a real good job of it, and the end result was a watery, almost flavourless crab. It’s always a bit of a problem when you don’t know what you are doing. Are soft shell crabs always like this? Did I get a bad one? Did my  preparation ruin a good crab? The only way to find out is to try them again, preferably cooked by someone who knows how. So here was my chance.     The crab was deep fried in a light batter, and then cut up and placed on the sushi rice with a few salmon eggs, some lettuce and a dribble of a tartare style sauce (a japanese equivalent?).

The result was amazing, and I now know why soft shell crab is considered such a delicacy. Slightly crispy and such a delicate crab flavour, it really is delicious, seafood at its very best, and on my must have again soon list.

I ordered the rolls to take away, the photos were taken on the bonnet of the car. The two rolls were served with a little pickled ginger (a favourite of mine),  and saschets of wasabi and kikkoman sauce.                                                                                I look forward to visiting freshsushico again and trying a few more of their masterpieces.

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