When we come across impeccable ingredients occasionally we hit a creative wall. How do you enhance something that appears to be perfect? The simple is someimes the most complicated to achieve.
We tasted this sea urchin and it was delicious: briny, sweet, and creamy with a firm texture that melted in your mouth. It had all of the things you look for in good uni. We did not let this deter our efforts to gild the lily. After tasting, we knew we could enhance the ingredient and improve the eating experience. We were looking for contrasting elements: acidity, salt, bright aromatics, textural and temperature contrasts. We were imagining our interpretation of the perfect sea urchin dish. That is what cooking is. Adding a personal touch to the ingredients at hand. The key is not overwhemling an ingredient by taking the personalization too far. In our first run with the sea urchin we seasoned it with jalapeno rings, Meyer lemon juice and zest, smoked Maldon salt and olive oil. This would have been beautiful all by itself but I was unable to resist adding more. I added a bed of homemade spaghetti dressed with chopped sea urchin, radish green puree and crushed red pepper. The addition of the pasta, well perhaps the fully dressed pasta took something simple and delicious and muddied the experience.
The benefit from this failure is that two dishes emerged. The first is the raw preparation with the original seasonings and the other is a work in progess, a light version of sea urchin carbonara with a silky, creamy sauce that speaks of the sweet flavor of the uni.