Sea urchin pasta (Spaghetti ai ricci di mare)

I was meaning to film the magnificent spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino, when I came across a Uni pasta recipe that made me drool. I had seen it several times before on social networks : it is particularly popular in Japan. But then my eyes started to bulge as I saw “cream” in the ingredients list.

Cream ? In pasta ? With seafood ?? No can do ! I really think I was Italian in a former life because of my unlimited respect for proper pasta rules.

I then researched how to make authentic Spaghetti ai ricci di mare, the Italian version of this sea urchin dish. It is basically aglio, olio e peperoncino pasta, with a wonderful umami addition ! So simple to make, with an elegant twist.

Sea urchin pasta – Recipe

Ingredients – Advice & key points

  • Sea urchins :
    • Do know that sea urchins are on the pricey side ! This dish is a small luxury. 90g of sea urchin roe, or its shelled sea urchins equivalent, might cost you anywhere from 15 to 60 euros, depending on your country and the sea urchin type. Mine were in the lower range, so it was quite reasonable.
    • You will need to make a trip to the the fishmonger’s for this one : we need some damn fresh sea urchins !
    • You will usually be able to find shelled sea urchins ; if you do, make sure you use them within 24 hours, and ideally right away. This way, your pasta will be ready within 25 minutes, yay ! You’ll need 90g of sea urchin roes for 2 people (equivalent to around 3 sea urchins ; each sea urchin will contain around 4 to 5 roes, with a roe weight of around 30g. It depends on your urchin kind, so kindly ask your fishmonger’s for the approximate urchin weight).  
    • If you buy unshelled sea urchin, you will usually be able to keep them in your fridge up to 48 hours, in a large bowl covered with a moist kitchen towel. They must be kept at a temperature between 0ºC and 4ºC.
      • Don’t be impressed with the shelling proccess ! It really is a breeze when you know how to do it and you’re equipped appropriately.
      • You will need cut resistant gloves (less than 10€, to buy online or from the hardware store) and scissors (not too fragile, such as kitchen scissors). That’s it ! It will then only take 10 minutes of your time for 3 sea urchins.
      • For all the info you need on the shelling process, check my detailed recipe, or better yet : check my recipe video.
  • Pasta :
    • I believe spaghetti is a great choice here, or any long-shaped pasta kind, as the light sauce will cling to it.
    • What you must not compromise on is using Bronze Drawn pasta. Why so ? Because when processed this way, the pasta will present small irregularities that will enable the sauce to cling to it.
  • Fair warnings :
    • Please try to find really good quality sea urchins. It should taste buttery, fresh, salty but with a slight ‘sweetness’, and no fishy smell. On the other hand, bad sea urchins will feel spongey with a strong fishy taste not unsimilar to… what urine must feel like (sorry but it’s kinda true).
    • The taste for sea urchin differs from one person to another. Some recipes will call for as much as 12 sea urchins for two servings, some only 2. I personnally found that a little goes a long way : with 3 sea urchins, you will get a bold, yet delicate umami taste.

Cooking your pasta – Pieces of advice

  • Pasta :
    • Please salt your pasta water appropriately ! 10g of salt/liter is usually recommended.
    • As for most pasta recipe, we’ll finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the sauce. We’ll just put them in for the last half of their cooking time.
    • It is important that you start tasting 2 minutes before the package theoretical time, so that you get perfect al dente pasta.

Now come and cook !

Sea urchin pasta (Spaghetti ai ricci di mare)

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 35 mins
Servings: 2
Best Season: Winter


Prepare to impress your lucky guests -and more importantly, yourself- with this 35mn elegant pasta ! The umami taste of fresh sea urchins is a wonder, even more so when paired with some garlic and peperoncino to brighten it up. This delicate pasta dish is made creamy by emulsifying some good quality olive oil. A small luxury to grant yourself !    



  1. Prep your ingredients

    Mince your garlic cloves, bird's eye chili and parsley. Halve your lemon.

    Open the sea urchins with scissors over a small colander to catch the water they contain in a bowl.

    Remove the sea urchin tongues, place in a bowl of cold water. Then move to a second water bowl to finish rinsing them until they're fully cleaned, and put the sea urchin tongues on a plate linen with paper towel on it.

    Reserve 4 tbsp of sea urchin water. Set aside 4 to 6 tongues to be placed on top of the plates.

  2. Let's cook !

    Before your start cooking, put your plates in the oven at 80°C to keep the pasta warm longer. 

    Salt your boiling water, then add your pasta.

    Add 1/2 your olive oil to your pan.

    Add your garlic with a bit of salt. Let it cook on very low heat so that the garlic infuses in the oil. About 4 minutes later, add a little oil (2 tablespoons) to cool the pan so that it keeps infusing on a very low heat.

    ~6 minutes after the pasta were started (check your package and take half their cooking time), put the pasta in the pan, where they will finish cooking. Add your sea urchin water and 1 or 2 ladles of cooking water. Stir well to free all the pasta starch.

    2 minutes before the end, add your chilli. 

    When your pasta is fully cooked yet all dente, turn off the heat. Add your lemon juice and zest, your parsley, then your sea urchin tongues. Stir vigorously. 

    Place on your heated plates.

    Et voilà !! You're done !  

    Don't forget to heavily salt your pasta water when boiling (10g/liter of water)
Keywords: home made, sea urchin, pasta, umami

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