A Rare Sea Urchin That is Hard to Find, Even at Toyosu Where The World's Top Uni Gather

Hello, everyone! This is Kimi from Hokkaido Uni Shop. 

Today, I would like to introduce you to the valuable and delicious sea urchin that even connoisseurs at Uni (sea urchin) market, who are watching sea urchin every day, would be excited to see arrive and would try their best to get the best Uni available. 

'Valuable sea urchin' is frankly... (IMHO) ... sea urchin that is rare to produce.
First, take a look at this image.

What are the characteristics of the sea urchin in this photo?
To me,

  • The green label
  • Sea urchin is a whitish color
  • The grain is large
  • Lined up neatly and look luxurious

These are what I was impressed with...

Next, look at this picture. What are the characteristics of this sea urchin photo?

I felt it was:

  • The green label
  • The orange color of the sea urchin is sultry
  • Lineup was more uneven than the first photo

Either the first sea urchin or the second sea urchin that you just now compared is the more valued one. Which do you think is the valuable sea urchin?

The correct answer is the second sea urchin. I will explain why the second sea urchin is more valuable. 

The sea urchin company with green label has gained tremendous trust from sushi restaurants and restaurants that use sea urchins all over Japan, as well as Toyosu market, under the name "Tachibana no Nama Uni" of Tachibana Fisheries". Tachibana's nama (raw) sea urchin, along with Hadate's nama (raw) sea urchin, Higashizawa nama (raw) sea urchin, and Daisen's sea urchin, are often called the "four major brand sea urchins" and is always traded at high prices at Uni market. 

Hadate Nama Uni


Tachibana Nama Uni
This "Tachibana Suisan" (Fisheries) is sea urchin shop that specializes in processing Murasaki sea urchins. In terms of the first photo of the box of Murasaki sea urchin, it has a large grain, is arranged neatly in the box, and has a very beautiful finish. 
On the other hand, the sear urchin box in the second photo is made of "Bafun" sea urchin. 
Looking at the photo, I made a note of what the features are, but the hint is that first one is a whitish sea urchin and it seems to be high-class, while the second one is orange and a little uneven. 
Sea urchin shops that specialize in Murasaki sea urchin basically make only Murasaki sea urchins. The above four sea urchin makers, which are called the "four major brand sea urchins", are all manufactures that specialize in producing Murasaki sea urchins, so they rarely make Bafun sea urchin boxes. But in rare cases they will present Bafun sea urchin boxes at Uni market, and this is what makes them highly valuable and so popular. 
"Maruhiro no Nama Uni" is the specialty of Murasaki Uni, but in rare cases, they will also produce this box of Bafun sea urchin (picture below)  

Because there are differences in the shape and constitution of the shell and purchasing of raw materials between Murasaki and Bafun sea urchin, it seems that it is difficult for processors specializing in Murasaki sea urchins to handle Bafun sea urchins. Thus, it's not only the brand name and deliciousness, but also the "rareness" that attract many connoisseurs who target the rare sea urchin with all their might when they are available. 
It looks very delicious even when viewed from a different angle. There are some variations in the shape and size of the grains, but the box is packed with sea urchins, the color is beautiful, and it is dried well. And I got a comment from one of the veteran connoisseurs that the goodness of this sea urchin comes from the fact that it uses raw materials caught in Hokodate, Hokkaido. 
I have never had a chance to eat Maruhiro's Bafun sea urchin, but I ate Tachibana's Bafun sea urchin when it was in stock before. 
It had a strong sweetness and was very tasty. Most of the sea urchin in the box are fortified with an additive called "alum". There are various opinions about the alum, such as those who criticize the bitterness of alum and those who think that using alum has nothing to do with bitterness.
The opinion of veteran connoisseurs like one mentioned above, as well as those who eat sea urchins, is that by making good use of alum, the shape of the sea urchins is sustained, and it can help bring out the taste. 
There are more fan facts of the Hokkaido sea urchin and I will continue to share in this platform. If you have any questions or want to know more of the sea urchin or Hokkaido seafoods, please comments below!