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Make sushi at home recipe: Uni, sea urchin gunkan sushi

Make sushi at home recipe Uni gunkan sushi


Total: 35 - 40 minutes

Sushi Rice: 30 - 40 minutes

Making gunkan: 3 minutes

Though sometimes labeled as roe, it is reproductive organs, the gonads of uni that we eat. A single sea urchin typically contains five gonads, which are the main edible parts. What we are eating as sea urchins are actually these testes and ovaries. About 1-2 months before spawning, sea urchins store a lot of nutrients in their gonads.

Therefore, during this period, the sea urchins' gonads are large, and the flavor is rich and creamy. This rich taste is why sea urchins are considered most delicious just before spawning.

The savory taste of uni comes from the kombu kelp it eats. Therefore, most prized uni is harvested from where there are plenty of great tasting kombu and kelp. They are Hokkaido in Japan, Santa Barara and Fort Bragg in California, and Maine. Because Uni is an omnivore, there have been experiments in Japan to give uni different feed other than kombu. There are so called cabbage uni, and broccoli uni, that tastes as good as the ones eating kombu.

Freshness is key, as uni tends to transform from a firm texture to a looser, liquid-like state within five days of harvest. Depending on the type of uni, it has yellow or orange color. When fresh, good uni should taste sweet and buttery.

To keep the texture firm, some of the uni is treated with Potassium alum, which can leave bitter aftertaste as uni becomes older.

While liquid uni retains a similar taste to its fresher counterpart, its presentation isn't ideal for a restaurant setting. However, gunkan sushi provides an elegant solution, with the nori band gracefully holding both the firm and softer states of uni. Remember, the looser the uni, the quicker you should consume it to enjoy the best experience and to prevent the nori from becoming soggy.

wasabi grater for making sushi at home


  • Sushi Rice (recipe here)

  • 30-50g Uni

  • 1 Nori seaweed, half sheet


  1. Make gunkan nori. Cut the right side of the nori with a knife, about 1.5cm or 1 1/4 inch width, making two strips. Turn the nori vertically, cut three equal pieces of gunakan nori.

  2. Take about 30-40g of sushi rice and, using your fingers and palm, shape it into a square resembling the base of a regular nigiri.

  3. Lightly smear wasabi on top of the rice for a subtle kick.

  4. Encase this rice base with a strip of nori, forming the classic gunkan shape.

  5. Gently place the uni atop the rice using a spoon. Adjust the shape as necessary


sushi neta case containing sushi grade tuna, salmon

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