Bizarre Food: Sea Urchin
Ringo | On 12, Jun 2014
For our yearly out-of-town bonding, me and my siblings decided to spend it in Magalawa Islands in Palauig, Zambales.
The place is awesome, the water is non-wavy and shallow, which is perfect for a family with little children. Mang Mulo and Ate Bing, the caretakers, were quite accommodating and they serve the best foods ever. They will also try to have your request granted.
I tried asking some oysters, however, that time, harvesting them is not yet recommended. When my brother asked Ate Bing if they can get him sea urchins, she said yes, they are abundant.
Sea urchins have been a part of culinary delicacies from around the world. There are a number of edible sea urchins, including those dreaded poisonous black ones with large and hard spines. The most common type of sea urchins that are eaten from around the world are those with stout body with small non-poisonous spines with colors black, white, purple, blown and many more. Their rows or eggs are the edible part which are found by cracking the brittle body.
A bucket of sea urchins only costs us P100, all are fresh from the ocean with the spines are all still moving. Ate Bing gave us the common white sea urchins that highly resembles Tripneustes ventricosus with yellow roe inside.
At first we have no idea how to eat them until a local passed by and gave us a helping hand. He only used a spoon in cracking the shells and his hands in cutting the whole sea urchin. He then uses his finger to spoon the flesh out.
From what it looks it’s easy to open one, but when I tried it, it’s hard. Whenever I try to, I use to break a large portion of the body wasting some of the edible parts. I also hate the idea that there are some substances like moss, sea grasses and even small crabs inside the sea urchin. You still have to wash it using running water to clean before eating.
I asked another local how do they eat them, she said just as it is. Or, if you wanted to just put some vinegar and lime then you’re good to go. She added that the men in the place will just dive in the deeper waters of the place to get the sea urchins, prepare the gin bulag (most common gin) and the session starts.
My verdict? To be honest, I am not a fan. I actually doesn’t like that there are some substances that you’ll have to clean before consuming. I also found it too stinky. I love oysters and can eat them even freshly coming from the ocean. But this? I don’t think so. It’s not that I hate it, I’m not just into it.
We also asked our hosts to grill the remaining sea urchin in our bucket. However, the taste is just the same. When we are about to go home, we just gave the remaining sea urchins to Ate Bing and her family.