What Does Uni Taste Like? A Detailed Answer

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Have you ever visited a Japanese restaurant and heard the name uni? Maybe this name is new to you, but trust me, it’s a true gift of the Japanese to this world. To give you a better hint: it is mostly used in sushi. We are talking about the delicious sea creature, the sea urchin. Keep reading for someone like you who doesn’t know what uni tastes like!

uni in shell

Uni has a fantastic and delicate blend of sweet and salty tastes. You can find uni worldwide; the Japanese made it famous as a dish. They have a unique taste and give richness. The uni flavor is mouth-watering, ocean-y, and has a creamy texture. Its dominant texture is a mix of custard and sublime butter.  

You can also taste the trace of the sea that makes it similar to caviar. Some say they taste just like foie gras and like balut with its eggy part. Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin. It is covered in sharp spines; the real gem of a course is what’s inside the shell. 

But your very question is, “what does uni taste like?” This is what we are here for! Uni is a traditional Japanese delicacy. So if you are thinking about trying uni and want to explore its taste, we are answering here some common questions related to its taste and texture and ways to cook them. Keep reading!

What Is Uni?

sea urchin raw

You can also taste the trace of the sea that makes it similar to caviar. Some say they taste just like foie gras and like balut with its eggy part. Uni is the Japanese word for sea urchin. It is covered in sharp spines; the real gem of a course is what’s inside the shell. 

But your very question is, “what does uni taste like?” This is what we are here for! Uni is a traditional Japanese delicacy. So if you are thinking about trying uni and want to explore its taste, we are answering here some common questions related to its taste and texture and ways to cook them. Keep reading!

Uni is edible pieces of sea urchin that range in color from light yellow to rich orange. You can find sea urchins in all of the world’s oceans, but they are difficult to harvest due to the small amounts of edible meat inside.

Sea urchins can be quite expensive because they require intense labor to harvest and meticulous cleaning. It is difficult to find them outside sushi restaurants or Asian grocery stores. They are almost always sold fresh. Brightly colored and firm, fresh uni does not leak excessive liquids.

There are more than 18 sea urchin varieties, each with different colors ranging from yellow to orange hue, but the texture is quite similar. These amazing creatures are shaped in a ball with pointy spikes across their body. They live on the rocks and in corals on the ocean seabed. 

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What Does Uni Taste Like?

uni in spoon

Uni tastes heavenly and is exotic Japanese seafood. It has a smooth and creamy texture even though it is covered in a hard shell. Due to its smooth texture, it goes well with sushi. Depending on its variety, diet, and gender, good uni has a fresh and clean feel. It almost feels like you are eating a sea-style jelly pudding. 

It has an ocean smell and a thick, creamy, rich, buttery texture. The flavor is salty, and it varies depending on where it was harvested, how fresh it is, and even its gender. Despite its strangeness, people admire it and get excited about eating this. 

Does Uni Have A Fishy Taste?

Uni does not have a fishy taste; however, it comes in various flavors and varieties. It has a rich and creamy taste though it is firm and good. It has a sweet taste and is a little bit slimy.

But you must eat it fresh and get it from any seafood market. If you taste uni, you will feel like you are eating custard, but it is much lighter. Uni has a strong sea taste but does not taste like fish. 

Does Uni Taste Like Crab?

People who are crab meat lovers are curious to know whether uni tastes like crab. However, uni and crab’s textures are somewhat similar, but they are still different. Uni has a soft, buttery texture, while crab meat has a sweet, delicate, and tender flavor. Crab meat tastes between lobster and shrimp. 

So, uni doesn’t like to taste like a crab because it has a more buttery and mouth-melting texture. Crab meat is delicate, but it’s slightly harder than uni. So, they don’t share the same taste profile. 

Does Uni Taste Like Oysters?

Uni does not taste like an oyster; however, it is frequently prepared like an oyster, with horseradish or lemon to balance the mercurial flavor.

No matter where it’s harvested, black sea, or sulfurous waters, this food has a delicate, sweetish flavor and a creamy texture. In most cases, they have eaten right away, fresh from the seaweedy rocks where they forage for food or hide beneath crab carcasses.

Does Uni Taste Bitter?

Uni is a traditional Japanese delicacy. They are shaped like a ball with pointy spikes across their body. When they are fresh, they taste creamy, sweet, and buttery. They have a fantastic blend of sweet and salty tastes. 

However, some people find it like medicine with a bitter taste when kept in the box for longer. When these tiny sea creatures lose their freshness, they start losing their shape, so the alum additive is used to maintain their shape. Therefore, changing its taste can make it less tasty than having a fresh uni.  

What Does Uni Pasta Taste Like?    

Uni pasta is a rich, creamy, and cheesy pasta that will satisfy pasta lovers. Uni pasta tastes rich and buttery and is fully covered with ocean-like creaminess. The best thing about uni pasta is you can also make it at your home with some effort. 

Always buy fresh uni from grocery stores to make your pasta yummier. You can eat uni raw too, but the taste will blow your mind when you cook it with pasta. Some delicious ingredients like Mexican cream, shallots, chives, garlic, black pepper, dry white wine, and hot chili are spread to make uni pasta.

To make uni pasta, follow these simple steps:

  • Combine sea urchin and Mexican cream in the blender. Give a good mix. 
  • Place spaghetti pasta in the skillet and boil for 10 minutes. 
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in the pan and saute garlic and shallots. Cook for 3 minutes. Then add chili spread. Mix well. 
  • Add dry white wine and cook it for about a minute.
  • When pasta is cooked, add uni Mexican blend to it and mix well. 
  • In the end, mix the prepared pasta sauce with boiled pasta and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Uni pasta is ready to serve. 

What Does Uni Butter Taste Like?

Uni butter tastes amazing with a balance of sweetness and an alkaline taste. It also tastes sweet and creamy. It is thick, rich, and buttery in texture. Just like uni, uni butter also smells strongly of the ocean. However, the freshness and the gender of the sea urchin affect the flavor. Would you ever want to try uni butter with bread? 

Buttering your bread with uni butter will give you an amazingly sweet and rich flavor. It is just perfect as the topper for your dish and will enhance the taste of your dish. Using uni butter has limitless possibilities due to its varied ingredients. Uni butter is made of butter, lemon juice, sea salt, chives, black pepper, cayenne, and wax paper. 

Simple Process For Making Uni Butter:

  1. Take butter to room temperature.
  2. Put uni eggs in a bowl and whip them with a blender.
  3. Add softened butter to the uni mixture until it’s blended well.
  4. Add lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, chives, and cayenne. 
  5. Place uni butter on the wax paper, and roll into a log about 2 inches in diameter
  6. Fold the end of the wax paper and roll it to seal it. 
  7. Place rolls in the refrigerator for butter to set. When firm, cut into small pieces and enjoy using them.

What Does Bad Uni Taste Like? 

Uni is differentiated by grade, and low quality leads to unpleasant experiences. Quality is determined by several factors, including taste, color, freshness, and texture of the uni. The highest grade is “California Gold,” which is always fresh, bright, and vibrant in color. It’s firm in texture but still manages to be melt-in-your-mouth sweet and delicious. 

When uni loses its freshness, it tastes bitter and has a strange flavor. In short, the flavor of bad uni will be a bit dank and funky with iodine flavor. The off-beat flavor uni will catch your throat eventually. Many additives like alum are added to it to keep its shape. But when this is done, the uni tends to taste funny. 

To get a quality uni that is both harmful and still fresh, you should pay close attention to the appearance of the uni. Also, ensure that it is still new, bright, and vibrant in color. The texture also plays an important role. A good uni has a firm texture but melts comfortably in your mouth. 

Factors Affecting The Taste Of Uni 

uni sushi

The most important note to take is that good uni never tastes fishy but instead has delicate traces of the ocean. Several factors can affect the flavor of the uni, some of which are:

1. Age

To get the best uni test, you need to eat it fresh. You can eat it fresh from any seafood market near you. If the uni has been caught for a while, it starts to taste bitter. As older as it gets, they develop a metallic taste, with an aroma like ammonia and slimy. 

2. Location

Uni exists in different oceans across the world. The difference in the location influences their flavors due to the available food sources for the animal.

3. Recipe 

The recipes that you prepare with uni have a lot of influences on their flavor. Uni goes into various dishes like fish, sushi, summer veggies, etc. You can also add your need to side dishes which will undoubtedly influence the overall taste.

Is It Safe To Eat Uni?

uni in shell

For most people who don’t know much about uni, let me tell you it is great food with applications in a wide range of cuisines. Uni is commonly consumed raw, but it is also served in sushi dishes because its sweet and savory flavors complement many of the fantastic dishes available in Japanese cuisine.

Although uni is delicious, is it safe to consume it? The answer is yes. However, make sure you watch out for a few things. Uni is one of those unusual foods that taste heavenly but looks horrible. Looking at it, you won’t be able to tell that you are looking at a delicacy.  

It has a smooth buttery texture and a rich, salty shellfish-like flavor when it’s good. It’s too rich to eat on its own, but it’s perfect for sushi or other appetizer-style portions. When uni turns bad or loses its freshness, you cannot eat it because it gets bitter, and the overall experience of fresh uni tasting gets called off. 

What Parts Of The Uni Can You Eat?

When you see uni for the first time, you would not expect this strange-looking creature to actually taste amazing! So, you must think, how do you eat this scary munchkin? But it’s simple to eat them. Only a small percentage of uni can be eaten- and that’s inside the shell. When you open the urchin, you’ll notice five orange tongue-like structures. These are the sexual organs of the urchin and their only edible parts. 

So don’t eat anything from that shall except the orange part. Take a spoon and scrape out each one. There are nearly a thousand types of sea urchins, or uni, worldwide. They are quite creamy, sweet, and buttery. While Japan is the world’s largest consumer of uni, people worldwide are discovering its delicate sweetness. 

How To Cook And Serve Uni The Right Way?

uni sushi

Uni is one of those foods that makes you wonder what kind of insane chef thought it was a good idea to eat. Despite its prickly, unappealing appearance, sea urchin, or uni as it is known in Japan, is a delicacy enjoyed by foodies worldwide. Of course, they are difficult to prepare because of their rich flavor that captures the essence of the ocean, but the reward is well worth the effort.

Here are simple steps to cook uni to get you started:

  1. Locate a store that sells fresh urchins or uni.
  2. Cut the round opening of the top of the sea urchin using scissors. 
  3. Scoop out the ‘tongues’ of the sea urchin with a small spoon. 
  4. Preheat the grill and brush the bread with olive oil.
  5. Serve uni over grilled bread slices and enjoy.
  6. You can also serve raw uni with sushi over add-in hot soups.

Can You Eat Uni Raw?

Wondering how people eat this wonderful creature in raw form? There is more strange food out there, but few of them can match the taste of the uni. According to the Japanese, this small creature hides a delicious prize and is mostly eaten raw.

The brightly colored uni pieces should be carefully separated from the interior of the sea urchin’s shell, avoiding the liquid and black bits, which aren’t edible. A small tip for you on eating uni – if you eat it and it tastes fishy instead of ocean-y, it may have gone bad.

How To Buy The Best Uni?

uni on the surface

Buying a good uni is not that much tricky. You should always buy uni from grocery stores or from the seafood market to get the best one. There are two types of uni available in the market: one is alive, and the other one comes in a wooden box. 

The only difference between buying boxed and live sea urchins is that the latter allows you to experience cracking open the live sea urchin and scooping out the uni yourself. After scooping the uni out of the shell, you’ll need to wash it in salt water.

How Can You Preserve Uni?

Fresh uni or sea urchins should be stored in cool water at 40°F. They should not be preserved for more than 24 hours as they will develop a bitter taste and lose nutritional value. Refrigerator storage can degrade the quality of sea urchins, so eat them right away rather than storing them. Moreover, sea urchins must be protected from sunlight and rainfall.

Health Benefits Of Uni

uni in the box

Uni is enjoyed at Japanese restaurants by those who want to eat something adventurous. Apart from regular tuna or raw salmon, uni is unique and has a rich taste. But are there any health benefits of consuming uni? 

If you are a sushi lover, you would want to try uni at least once. In the case of health benefits, you should try uni for several health benefits, which I have just broken down for you:

  • High in protein 
  • A good source of fiber
  • Healthy source of vitamin A, Vitamin E, calcium, and iodine
  • Helps in blood circulation
  • Great for weight loss because it’s low in fat and carbohydrates. Contains only 125 calories per 3 pieces.

Nutrition Content Of Uni

uni in spoon

Uni comes in bundles of health benefits, and it is packed with nutrients. Uni is rich in carbs and fats but lets me tell you; it has more protein than anything. Uni is a type of seafood high in Omega-3 fatty acids. 

Uni has around 120 calories per (100 grams). Uni is also a good source of vitamins A and C, both of which have numerous health benefits. Uni’s ingredients have a low calorie and protein content per serving.

NutrientsAmount (100 g of uni )
Calories120 kcal
Carbohydrates3 g
Protein16 g
Sugar13 g
Fat5 g
Sodium220 mg
Omega-30.5 g
Cholesterol290 mg


Uni is unique seafood, got its glory from Japan. It is eaten raw and also paired well with Sushi. It is one of the rare, little scary seafood creatures that is eaten and enjoyed globally. The taste of the uni is unique and salty, and a lot of other factors affect the taste of the uni.

Uni is available at grocery stores and seafood markets. However, eating a fresh uni will give you the best flavor and texture of this amazing seafood. Hope you all got to know a lot about uni from this article. Stay tuned to explore other ingredients and tastes!

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

What are the different ways to eat uni?

The possibilities to eat uni are endless. You can add it to your pasta as a topper or you can grill it or you can also toast it with oysters. It is also eaten with sushi or raw. 

How to Identify edible sea urchins?

The edible sea urchins will have a small piece of Seawood, a shell, or a rock attached to the top of them. Also, they are not in pure black color. They are either in purple, red, or green color.

What does sea urchin sushi taste like?

Sea urchin sushi has a very strong smell of ocean sea. It tastes like the butter of the sea and is very creamy.

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