Neri Uni: Home-Use Inexpensive Sea Urchin Paste
When I think of expensive, luxurious ingredients for Sushi, what comes to my mind right away is the sea urchin “Uni (雲丹、うに)”, because the Sushi topping is one of my favorite delicacies or “Chinmi (珍味)”.
We Japanese occasionally enjoy fresh raw sea urchin roe or Uni with rice or other foods at Sushi restaurants, traditional Ryotei restaurants, and the like in daily life, but not many people have it at home.
As a matter of fact, not many supermarkets stock raw sea urchin roe on its own. Instead, many are selling assorted Sushi packs including one with sea urchin.
As for me, I sometimes buy that kind of Sushi variety pack at a supermarket near my house, for the assorted Sushi pack is inexpensive and reasonably priced compared to hand-rolled Sushi plates served in traditional Sushi restaurants.
In addition to them, I also love a classic processed sea urchin product that is available in most supermarkets in Japan, which I actually bought this time for the blog article.
Neri Uni (練うに)
What I picked up this time is this jar of “Neri Uni (練うに: kneaded sea urchin)”, which contains a sea urchin paste mainly meant for plain white rice. Nonetheless, not only rice, but it actually goes perfectly with alcoholic drinks, especially with Sake rice wine, and many Japanese like to drink with the sea urchin paste as an accompaniment or “Otsumami (おつまみ)”.
Since the sea urchin paste is for home use, it is not that pricey and sold for about 500 yen (about 5 USD). The reason why the product can be bought at an affordable price is that the orange paste doesn’t only consist of the sea urchin Uni. As I mentioned above, it is a processed or blended food, not fresh raw sea urchin roe.
Specifically, according to the label on the side of the glass jar, the main ingredients in the paste Neri Uni are salted sea urchin, wheat flour, sugar, egg yolk, ethyl alcohol, milk protein, amino acids, starch adhesive, and colors. By the way, its sea urchin content is 65 percent.
As for the taste, the blended sea urchin paste, Neri Uni has a distinctive, somewhat briny taste featuring a rich umami flavor of Uni. Although the ingredients include sugar, this Japanese processed seafood isn’t sweet at all but is quite savory. The texture is smooth, similar to that of Miso soybean paste.