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, 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 sea urchins.
I sometimes buy that kind of Sushi variety pack at a supermarket near my house, for the assortment 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, which I actually bought this time for this blog article.
Neri Uni (練うに)
What I picked up this time is a 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 the paste actually goes perfectly with alcoholic drinks, especially with sake. Many Japanese people like to drink with this as an accompaniment or “Otsumami (おつまみ)”.
Since this 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 Uni. As I mentioned above, it is a processed, blended food, not fresh raw sea urchin roe.
Specifically, according to the label on the side of the glass jar, the main ingredients in this Neri Uni are salted sea urchin, wheat flour, sugar, egg yolk, ethyl alcohol, milk protein, amino acid seasoning, starch adhesive, and colors.
By the way, the sea urchin content is 65 percent.
This Neri Uni paste has a distinctive, somewhat briny taste packed with the umami of sea urchin.
Although the ingredients include sugar, the paste isn’t sweet at all, rather on the savory side. The texture is smooth like miso paste.