The Sardinian Sea Urchin. A Delicacy.

Sea Urchins are found in the ocean the world over.  They range in size from six to twelve centimeters and come in many different colors.  Red, purple, brown, green and black.  They are spiny round creatures that live in shallow rocky waters.  They move extremely slow on hundreds of tiny tube feet and feed on algae.  Their spines range from one to three centimeters in length, and they use these ferocious spines as a protection barrier against predators. These spiny strange creatures are considered an aphrodisiac and in many parts of the world they are in extreme high demand.

Sardinian Sea Urchin

In many parts of the world the roe (which are the urchins internal ovaries) are a culinary delicacy.  In Japan good roe can cost around $450kg.  The edible part of the urchin consists of five orange or reddish lobes that are very soft.  Sea Urchins have a very powerful salty taste and a creamy consistency. In the mediterranean  these ovaries are often eaten raw, plucked right from the ocean and ripped apart in seconds and eaten.  There are many popular Sardinian recipes which call for roe in pastas, stews and appetizers.

Urchin Roe

These bizarre edible creatures are also very dangerous should you step on one. The pain is severe and can last days if left untreated.  Always seek the professional guidance of a doctor before trying any of the points outlined below should you experience this horrible accident.  There are many methods of treatment of extracting the spines:

  • See a doctor to have the spines removed.  It’s going to hurt, there are no lies here.  Take prescribed antibiotics.
  • Some people choose to leave the spines in.
  • An ancient Thai remedy is to put lime juice on the infected area to remove the spines.
  • If you find yourself in a secluded area with no means to see a doctor, grab a rock and try to remove the spines yourself.
  • Soak feet in hot water for 30-90 minutes which will relieve the pain.
  • Apply melted wax to area then peel off to remove the pines.

Sardegna has thousands of unspoilt coastal rocky beaches to play in.  Be careful where you step and what looks like a rock hiding in the shallow waters could very well be a Sea Urchin.  Know your sea and what lives in it.

Eaten Sea Urchins in Sardegna

22 thoughts on “The Sardinian Sea Urchin. A Delicacy.

  1. If You like fish, sea urchins are one of the greatest flavors You’ll ever try. Flip the sea urchin over so the mouth is facing up. Use a knife and crack the shell around the circumference then open it up and eat the roe…Had them in Mexico too in Huatulco and they were outstanding. Imagine a fine caviar with a subtle floral essence.

  2. The best time to harvest sea urchins is January. I did in northeast Sardinia. Excellent flavor with some wine and bread. As to Danger, watch where You put your feet use a mask and snorkel when you go for Sea Urchins. I’ve had the pins in my feet many times not a big deal.

  3. Thanks for the info. I share it with my sis. She was in Greece (Santorini), stepped on an unfortunate little urchin, and suffered the consequences: 7 spines in her foot. An elderly Greek woman poured olive oil on her foot and removed the spines that way (I’m told a needle was involved, but I don’t have the full scoop on that). At any rate, she was feeling much better. Didn’t know Greece had witch doctors. Still, kind of her to help out. I shared your information with my sis, although I don’t think she’ll be walking bare foot on any more beaches.

    • Sorry to hear about your sister and the urchin in her foot! I’ve never stepped on an urchin but I can imagine the pain. Thank you for sharing and reading my article. Santorini is a lovely place, I hope to make it back on day … soon.

      • It’s not actually very painful. I’ve stepped on urchins a number of times in Greece and Croatia – poor little urchins indeed! I had quite a few spines in my skin and it’s true that it took about six months for all the little bits of spines to dissolve from my skin.

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  6. Sea urchins BAD!!!!! I stepped on one, then another, then another trying to get out of the ocean when I lived in Bermuda. Used to love these little buggers. Used to love to eat these delicious devils. Not after that pain!!!!!!!!!!!!! Besides reading all the hoopla of these creatures….. Your pictures are so very pretty!!!!! I wonder if their husks (shell? Outter thingies?) would make interesting earrings. Hummm… food for thought there!!!!!

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