Without a doubt, the highlight of my short weekend jaunt to Vancouver was fresh sea urchin at the Granville Island Public Market.
Granville Island is located just south of downtown Vancouver, and it boasts a large public market that reminded me of Pike Place Market in Seattle. It's filled with stalls selling everything from seafood to local produce.
But the thing that got me most excited was chancing upon live sea urchin at one of the seafood stalls. I've been trying to find this for a long time but unfortunately, the places I frequent in Seattle don't carry live sea urchin!
If you've had sea urchin (also called "uni" in Japanese) at a Japanese restaurant before, you'll know that it's usually one of the more expensive items on the sushi menu. An uni sushi (a small dollop of sea urchin on top of a bed of sushi rice) usually costs above $3.
Imagine my delight when I found out I could procure a fresh sea urchin for just $10 each!
I promptly bought one, and the stall owner kindly opened and cleaned the spiny creature for me. She then packed it into a little container.
It's a tiny mountain of the freshest sea urchin, and I couldn't wait to start digging into it.
It was outrageously delicious - the sea urchin was soft and creamy with just the right hint of saltiness. It melted in my mouth and was extremely satisfying. Apparently, it's also good for you -- uni is rich in protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
The next time you're at Granville Island Public Market, try some fresh sea urchin for yourself!