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Hi, I'm Jaden, a professional recipe developer, food columnist and food photographer specializing in fast, fresh and easy recipes for the home cook. Most of my recipes are modern Asian! About meFast, fresh & easy recipes for the home cook.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Uni Shooter with Ponzu Sauce

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We’re currently spending the long weekend at Mount Dora again with good friends Brian and Rachelle.

Despite being smack dab in the middle of Florida, I was floored by the fresh sushi at Mount Dora Sushi. Owner Janet Craig, who is half-Japanese runs this restaurant with her family. It’s one of the most popular dining destinations in the area, some drive over an hour away just to sample the best sushi around.

So, lets talk about Uni, or sea urchin. Thank goodness for my friend, Casson Trenor, author of Sustainable Sushi and an activist with Greenpeace. Through his book and through the Monterey Aquarium iPhone app, I can usually navigate through a sushi menu pretty well and choose to dine on delicacies that are sustainable. I wanted to call Casson and be sure though, since Uni’s situation is a little more complicated.

Uni that we enjoy here in the U.S. comes from several places, Alaska, California, Canada and Maine, for example. Yes, it also comes from Japan but is extremely expensive, and usually out of pocket book reach of many diners… which is good because we know very little about the harvesting practices and regulations in Japan (pssst…pass on Japanese Uni until we know more information!)

According to Casson, Uni from Maine should be avoided at all costs. There is little regulation, management and stock strengths are at approximately 10% of what they once were. Uni from Canada is excellent, as they enforce strict quotas on the hand-harvesting of Uni. California is a good resource for the delicacy as well.

It’s wonderful to see this small sushi company in the middle of Florida doing whatever they can to protect the sustainability of sushi. While their menu list isn’t absolutely perfect, Janet assures me that every day they do what they can as a small company to respect the environment, including specifically sourcing Uni from California and Canada. Here is the recipe for their Mount Dora Sushi Uni Shooter, one of the best I’ve ever had.

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Mount Dora Sushi with Chef Kobayashi doing his magic:

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Vivid purple flowers and a yummy vegetable flower made from celery, tomato and green onion:

uni-shooter-ponzu-sauce-2j

I loved these Japanese ramune soda drinks as a kid – A glass marble seals the top of the bottle, which is held in place by the carbonation. To open, you have to push the glass marble down into the neck of the bottle. Andrew thought it was the coolest thing in the world.

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Uni Shooter with Ponzu Sauce Recipe

Recipe from Mount Dora Sushi

1 piece very fresh, firm Uni (Sea Urchin from California, Canada-New Brunswick)
1 Quail egg yolk only
1 drop Sriracha hot chili sauce
1 tablespoon Ponzu Sauce (equal parts soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, and splash lemon juice)

In a shot glass or martini glass, layer the ingredients in the order that they appear in the list.



35 Responses to “Uni Shooter with Ponzu Sauce”

  1. Chef Gwen — 9/6/09 @ 4:59 pm

    You know I adore your site, but gotta be honest. Sea urchin is funky. And doesn’t pair with my tastebuds. That said, I loved reading about the creature and efforts to sustain it. Great story and gorgeous photo.

  2. Christopher — 9/6/09 @ 5:30 pm

    I love those little sodas that your son(?) is opening. We recently got those at my favorite local sushi bar. As for the recipe, it sounds absolutely delicious as always. :)

  3. I don’t think I could do it…but I love your photos and love the sustainability…

  4. Janet — 9/6/09 @ 6:47 pm

    If I was lucky enough to hang out with you for a day, and you ordered this, I would try it- because I trust you. But I have to admit, as pretty as it is presented, I can’t help but think it reminds me of a little hairy tongue… {{{shiver}}}…lol…

    HA!!! that’s funny – ok, it does look a little tongue like! ~j

  5. Rachael — 9/6/09 @ 7:24 pm

    No wonder you are so awesome–you’re an uni eater! Uni is one of my all-time favorites. And I hear ya on ramune. My youngest brother is a student at UCLA right now and lives just around the corner from Little Tokyo. He always brings me a few ramunes when he comes for a visit. (Smart guy–he knows I’ll make him his favorite cookies if he does this.)

  6. MrGnocchi — 9/6/09 @ 8:12 pm

    Uni is like the ‘butter’ of the Sea.
    Thanks for the Recipe! And the accompanying photos are great.
    Kudos to Mt.Dora for attempting sustainability. :)

    YES! Butter of the sea is soooo right on. ~j

  7. Shayne — 9/6/09 @ 8:58 pm

    I tried sea urchin for the first time a few weeks ago. it was ok but I thought it did not go well with the sushi seaweed (drawing a blank on the name at this second) and the rice that is was served with. I never thought to ask where it was from, but I don’t think I will ever try it again so there should not be an issue from here on out

    LOL sounds like you didn’t like uni! ;-) ~jaden

  8. Brian Young — 9/6/09 @ 10:19 pm

    Yummo! Can’t get enough of Janet’s Uni Shooters and find myself racing to Mt Dora Sushi every time the next Uni shipment arrives to try and beat all of the other locals! Some say it is an acquired taste but Uni is fabulous to me in both flavor and texture.

    Sorry we missed out on the Uni Shooters last night but we’ll be back there next time you are in Mt Dora!

  9. Cynthia A — 9/7/09 @ 1:20 am

    Those sodas look pretty cool; I’ve never seen anything like that! (Psst… New Brunswick is *in* Canada)

    oops! fixed! thanks honey! ~j

  10. OMG, this is a heart attack in a glass, but what the hell? you only live once, right? We’ll take a couple of rounds! Looks great!

  11. Katherine — 9/7/09 @ 6:37 am

    You site is great. I love the recipes. I tried sea urchin in Japan. It was really intense. Its quite an experience…

    Thanks Katherine! Yes, Uni is quite an experience…love the texture of uni ~jaden

  12. I love uni, too, but it’s awful when it isn’t fresh! I would definitely do this shooter since it looks SO fresh! I also love raw oyster shooters, but again, it’s all about the freshness of the seafood!

  13. O right!
    it seems so good but i don’t think i can’t do it at home because it’s too complicated for me and my two left hand.

  14. Asianmommy — 9/7/09 @ 2:32 pm

    I’ve gotta try that soda!

  15. zestycook — 9/7/09 @ 9:14 pm

    I have never tried this! Looks funky and fun!

  16. Lyndsey — 9/7/09 @ 9:21 pm

    I haven’t tied Uni yet, but we love sushi. Our favorite sushi restaurant in Sarasota closed. We were so sad, it was family run and their little girl was always there so we saw her grow up. My daughter liked pushing the marble in the bottle and had fun with the soda, but she’s not much of a soda drinker. The owners would always want to give her something to try. This place in Mt Dora looks like a must.

  17. haha so funny. my hairdresser told me that her parents moved to Maine to run an uni farm.

    its ok. i live in SF so california uni is what I get. So interesting how much larger it is freshly shucked vs at the sushi restaurant. apparently they put in a shrinking chemical to to tighten the uni up a bit and make it more neat. weird…

    Anyways, I like it on top of steamed egg or as a emulsified pasta sauce. divine.

  18. Maryann — 9/8/09 @ 9:18 am

    I would love to try this! At first it made me squirm, but the more I look at it the more I want it. A good sushi restaurant just opened near us and I am going to check and see if they have anything like this. A couple of weeks ago my kids brought home sushi from Publix, and hey, their heart was in the right place so I ate it with a huge smile on my face. Being 20 and 21 they could bring home much worse!

  19. MrSaladDressing — 9/9/09 @ 6:23 am

    Thanks for mentioning this restaurant. I’m always looking for a new places to explore, and I’ve already plugged this place into Google Maps. Three hours is a bit far, but I definitely want to check out the place when I get to the Orlando area in October. Plus, the beer garden is pet friendly! Awesome!

    Honestly, I have not tried Uri, and I’m not sure when I’ll try it. Maybe visiting Mount Dora Sushi will be the encouragement I need to finally make the leap!

  20. christy — 9/9/09 @ 12:50 pm

    Beautiful pictures! Love your site.

  21. Julie — 9/9/09 @ 12:56 pm

    I love uni so much, but it goes off so quickly and seems to pick up an almost sulfuric taste. When I lived in California, we’d eat it fresh out of the shell. It tastes like the sea. I feel bad for people who’ve never had it fresh and know only the tainted taste of it.

  22. Jessica — 9/9/09 @ 1:20 pm

    This looks delicious! My mom loves uni, so I grew up ordering uni at restaurants. Thanks for the recipe on how to spice up uni!

  23. Scott Ross — 9/9/09 @ 3:57 pm

    This is lovely! I used to struggle with Uni. . . until the sushi chef at Mizu on South Lake in Pasadena (now defunct) squeezed a Valencia orange on a pile of the little fellas and handed it to me: now I wonder why anyone would eat uni any other way!

  24. Scott Ross — 9/9/09 @ 3:58 pm

    Though I’ll give this a try because I dearly love quail egg shooters and ponzu sauce.

  25. Good to know about Uni from Maine. I actually prefer the stuff from California anyway so that works out! This sounds like a nice light amuse bouche.

  26. Jeffrey Bary — 9/11/09 @ 3:44 pm

    We tried the Uni Shooters last night. In fact we had quite a few. The combination is right on but I preferred it with twice as much uni, 2 drops of hot sauce and only 1/2 teaspoon ponzu. On my palate the full tablespoon of ponzu completely covered the subtle taste of the uni and the egg yolk.

  27. Carolyn Jung — 9/12/09 @ 2:52 pm

    Gorgeous photo — as always! I never liked sea urchins until I had them in Santa Barbara, where they are harvested off the waters there. When they’re that fresh, they are so sweet tasting. There is nothing like them.

  28. anita — 9/15/09 @ 12:28 pm

    Hi Jaden, that’s an amazing colorful picture, looks yummy but I can’t stomach uni. I had it, def an acquired taste, it had texture like buttery mush. I prefer raw salmon to uni.

  29. Casson — 10/4/09 @ 2:54 am

    You’re sweet to mention me… thanks for spreading the word :-)

  30. Jee — 2/9/10 @ 6:44 pm

    I cannot believe I have missed out on this article until now!!
    (I just finished raving and ranting and drooling in the “cheese souffle” article about these uni shooters – haha. Sorree -
    I wonder where I can buy fresh uni? Can I get them at a local fish market?
    and how can I tell if uni is fresh or not? Is there a way without tasting them? lol
    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe – I will be sure to try this the first chance I get my hands on some fresh uni!!

  31. Kim. — 7/9/10 @ 7:44 pm

    Does anyone know where I can find Uni pliers to crack them open with ?

  32. Monica — 4/8/11 @ 11:36 pm

    I made this tonight for a Japanese Birthday dinner… It was absolutely beautiful. Very balanced and delicious. Everyone who had it loved it. Thank you for a great post and recipe!

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