Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges
Black Bread, Butter, Jalapeño, Yuzu, Maldon Salt
I was sitting in the dining room of my virtual restaurant, the Borage & Basil Bistro, reading about Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Santa Barbara Sea Urchin.
“This dish is the perfect example of how uncluttered Jean-Georges’ cuisine is, as well as the volumes he can make his dishes speak. The bright iodine from the uni marries perfectly with the buttered pumpernickel toast. It’s just delicious from both a textural and flavorful standpoint,” said Chef Wylie Dufresne.
Contemplating getting on a plane to NYC to try this utterly sublime dish, it occurred to me how silly it would be to travel across the country from LA – to eat Santa Barbara uni!
Not only is the uni local, we also have the rare yuzu tree (an important component of this dish) growing in our garden. So that is how Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges ended up as the appetizer on tonight’s dinner menu at the Borage & Basil Bistro, this summer’s virtual restaurant where all the menu items feature fresh snipped herbs, exotic ripe fruits, and edible flowers from our garden.
With its salty, clean ocean scent and hues of gold and deep orange, its sweet, exotic, haunting taste and creamy, buttery texture – the captivating sea urchin roe makes for an elegant appetizer, indeed.
Santa Barbara Sea Urchin à la Jean-Georges Recipe
- fresh wild santa barbara sea urchin roe
- toasted slabs of black bread
- thick pats of butter at room temperature
- citrusy drops and zest of yuzu
- spicy slivers of jalapeno
- soft crunchy flakes of maldon sea salt
- petite blossoms of chinese chives
- Toast the black bread then immediately top with butter so the butter begins to melt.
- Place sea urchin roe on top of the butter.
- Squeeze yuzu juice over the sea urchin roe.
- Grate yuzu zest over the sea urchin roe.
- Top with a slice of jalapeño.
- Sprinkle with Maldon sea salt.
- Garnish with a Chinese chive blossom.
(My recipe was adapted from viewing photographs and reading comments about Jean-Georges’ dish, online).
Tonight’s centerpieces include roses, lemon verbena, and fennel flowers from the garden. Not only are they charming, but they smell amazing too.
our yuzu tree
Both the young green and the mature yellow fruits are used in cooking. The rind is very aromatic, the juice is tart. Yuzu adds a striking bright note to all sorts of dishes. Its flavors are more complex than lemon – maybe like a combination of grapefruit plus mandarin orange with a hint of sour lime?
Originally from Southeast Asia, the yuzu does quite well here in my Southern California garden. Due to its cold hardiness, yuzu is one of few citrus trees that can withstand temperatures that dip below freezing. It needs plenty of sun in both summer and winter, excellent drainage, and regular feeding. It does best in an area out of the wind, and be sure to take into account its long sharp thorns when deciding on placement. Having fresh yuzu on hand is a cook’s true delight.
chinese chive blossoms
The Chinese chives in my garden are in bloom right now. The edible flowers have a savory garlicky-oniony flavor and add a touch of whimsical beauty.
how to clean sea urchin
Everything you need to know to clean a live sea urchin, with detailed photographs, here.
also on the menu
Borage & Basil Bistro
Watermelon Salad, Pomegranate Syrup, Feta, Cucumber
Borage, Basil, Red Onion, Cayenne, Olive Oil, Sprouted Watermelon Seeds
Filet Mignon, Horseradish-Olive Tapenade
Cannellini Beans, Wilted Spinach & Arugula, Arugula Flowers
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