Monday, September 11, 2006

Spaghetti ai Ricci di Mare con Limone e Mentuccia Romana (Spaghetti With Sea Urchin Roe, Lemon and Field Balm)

After cleaning 32 sea urchins we ended up with half a cereal bowl full of eggs for our pasta. Doesn't seem like much, does it? But a lot of work went into this meal, so we were determined to make it really good. Valeria knew how to use the sea urchins with an Italian flair. She was the expert of the day since she spent her childhood summers on the Island of Capri hunting "ricci di mare" on the rocks.

Normally we make an appetizer out of sea urchin roe just by laying them on some buttered toast and eating them along with iced Tsipouro in the courtyard before dinner. This time though, it was sea urchin pasta sauce.

The ingredients:

roe of 32 sea urchins
1/4 cup the best extra virgin olive oil*
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 sprig mentuccia romana (field balm) yielding about 2 tablespoons of leaves
salt and pepper to taste.
1 lb package spaghetti

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a bowl and reserve. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and add the pasta stirring constantly until is begins to bend. Cook using package directions. When al dente, drain and place in a large pasta bowl, add the sauce and toss as gently as possible to avoid smooshing the sea urchin roe. Music to stir urchin roe by: The Screaming Orphans' (this one goes out to you, M.O.T.S.) cover of the Pixies' "Here Comes Your Man" on album "Circle". Look on the left of the page to hear it for yourself. Their soft and liltingly Irish version of this Pixies screamer is unrestrainedly hilarious! The roe will break anyway, but you're doing good if they stay in pieces rather than becoming a paste.

*The olive oil will stay raw in this dish, so make sure it's the best one you can afford since here, you'll really taste the difference.

10 Comments:

Anonymous paz said...

Wow! What a meal! I've never had Ricci di Mare before. I think all your efforts turned out beautifully (or should I delicious-sounding).

I've enjoyed reading about the process.

Paz

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Ellie said...

I loved reading your previous two posts about the sea urchins and was waiting eagerly to see what the result of your effots was! By the looks and sounds of it, it was well worth the effort :)

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Tanna said...

That blows my mind...How incredible. Now if only I could have a taste. Wish I could have been there. Beautiful!!

3:06 PM  
Blogger Lotus Reads said...

Oh, my, now you've got me wondering if my favorite Italian restaurant in Toronto serves anything with a sea urchin pasta sauce. I'll have to look!

3:15 PM  
Anonymous rowena said...

Sigh...I don't mean to sound extremist but that dish... to die for! Ricci di mare!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks Susan!

3:48 PM  
Blogger Susan in Italy said...

Hi Paz, Thank you so much!

Hi Ellie, It was indeed worth it. And so nice to hear from you about it too.

Hi Tanna, You know, the taste is very subtle. This is one pasta that you can't add parmesan to, otherwise, you wouldn't taste the urchins at all.

Hi Lotus, Let me know if they do! (Otherwise try your local sushi bar - that was the only place I found them in N. America)

Hi Rowena, Wow! Thank you! So in Hawaii, how do you eat them? I'm imagining an ocean-side beach party, really informal where you eat the stuff you've caught that day maybe with some lemon. Is that about right?

9:37 AM  
Blogger June said...

Hi Susan

Thanks so much for your comment to me about Catalunya...it was the only way I got to know that the post had actually gone up! My version of my blog is still stuck on the previous post. I have no idea if the DOQ pictures are even in the right place - bother Blogger.

So it was good to write you a note because I got to read your wonderful posts about sea urchins. Years ago I was in Corsica and someone dived off the rocks for them for us and presented them at dinner, on trays, neatly bisected, the spines still moving so they walked across the table!!! I think that will be your recommended daily intake of iodine for the next year! Fantastic!

7:25 PM  
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