Uni Cacio e Pepe

Dinner

Uni Cacio e Pepe | www.acozykitchen.com

When I was a kid I loved pasta night because it meant that I could take a raw piece of pasta and act like it was a cigarette.

I liked doing this with other things like straws, Fun Dip and Pocky. Even to this day, that is one of the first things I think of when I remove raw pasta from its container…me fake-smoking.

Anyway, pasta for Valentine’s Day is a gigantic no-brainer because it’s the easiest thing to throw together. While bolognese takes about an hour to simmer, this sauce takes minutes. This sauce, if anything, almost goes too fast so you’ll need to prep all of your ingredients before you get started.

Uni Cacio e Pepe | www.acozykitchen.com

Have you had sea urchin before? It tastes like a fresh breath of ocean air. It’s briny and creamy and really delicious. It took me a while to actually fall in love with it. The texture might not be your thing at first but after a few go’s, it definitely grows on you.

And the good news is that if the texture isn’t your thing, then you don’t really have to deal with it in this sauce because the uni is combined, in a food processor, with pasta water.

Uni Cacio e Pepe | www.acozykitchen.com

The pasta water and uni are blended together to make this beautiful orange-hued mixture that is then strained.

The pasta comes together a little bit differently than traditional cacio e pepe: it begins with butter and water melting together and becoming one. The sea urchin sauce is slowly incorporated and then the pasta is tossed. The cheese comes at the very end because it was making the sauce super clumpy and I was not feeling it!

Uni Cacio e Pepe | www.acozykitchen.com

Now, what kind of sea urchin to buy and where from!

Since we’re cooking with this sea urchin, you’ll want to look for GRADE B. It’s not perfect in appearance, though the flavor was fresh and tasty. GRADE A is what you’d find at a high-end sushi restaurant, but there’s no need for that in this application

The box you see pictured of Grade B uni was $10. Not bad at all.

If you live in Los Angeles, you can special order it from McCall’s Fish and Meats in Los Feliz.

If you don’t live in Los Angeles, you can usually call up most fish markets and request it. Or you can head to an Asian market and they’ll most likely have it at a pretty fair price.

Happy Love Day. I’ll be back next week with non-couple-y recipes. xoxo

Uni Cacio e Pepe | www.acozykitchen.com

Uni Cacio e Pepe

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces spaghetti or bucatini
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, divided
  • 5 ounces fresh sea urchin roe
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano

Directions

  • Begin by placing a colander and measuring cup in your sink.
  • Bring a medium pot filled with salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, per the package’s instructions (mine told me about 9 minutes). Pour some of the pasta water into the measuring cup (about 1/2 cup) and drain the pasta in your colander. Immediately transfer the measuring cup to the freezer so the water can chill until it’s room temperature. The pasta water doesn’t need to be cold, we just don’t want it scalding hot when we add it to the food processor, along with the uni. Place the pasta back in the empty pot (with the heat turned off) and cover, just so it stays warm while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  • To a food processor, add the uni. Be sure to reserve a piece or two as garnish. Pour in 1/4 cup of room temperature or warm pasta water to the food processor and pulse until smooth. Pour the uni sauce through a sieve and discard any bits. Set aside.
  • To a medium skillet, set over low heat, add 1 tablespoon of pasta water. Heat the pasta water until a wisp of steam rises from the top, about 30 seconds. Next, add the butter and constantly move the pan until the butter completely incorporates into the water. Turn off the heat and slowly begin to add the reserved uni sauce, one tablespoon at a time, only adding more until the tablespoon added prior is completely incorporated. Repeat the adding of the uni sauce until you’ve worked your way through all of it.
  • Add a few pinches of salt and about 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper. Give it a taste and adjust the salt and pepper content to your liking. Add the pasta and toss until thoroughly coated. It shouldn’t be too too saucy. Divide the pasta amongst bowls, top with a generous handful of Pecorino Romano, more black pepper and a piece of uni. Serve immediately.

Notes

This dish goes quickly, so this is one of those instances when I recommend getting all of your ingredients prepped and the table set!
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18 Comments

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  • Avatar
    Reply Charlotte @ Drop Dead Bread February 13, 2015 at 2:35 am

    This is great! Quick, simple but impressive. I wonder if the OH would notice how little time I spent in the kitchen…

  • Avatar
    Reply Belinda@themoonblushbaker February 13, 2015 at 3:24 am

    This has to the dish that oozes romance. The appeal of rich uni, long pasta strands for a lady and the tramp moment. Pure, golden and delicious!

  • Avatar
    Reply Allison February 13, 2015 at 5:00 am

    YUM! There is a restaurant in NYC – All’Onda and I had a similar dish there earlier this year that I still dream about. Definitely want to try this – thanks for posting!

  • Avatar
    Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens February 13, 2015 at 6:07 am

    Cacio e pepe is one of my favourite pasta dishes. So easy, so simple, so delicious. Unfortunately I have yet to fall in love with uni, and the last time I tried it was years ago. Parents still don’t understand why I don’t like it. Maybe I need to give it another chance!

    • Adrianna Adarme
      Reply Adrianna Adarme February 13, 2015 at 11:05 am

      You should! I will say that the texture is what most people dislike but this doesn’t have that since it’s blended–just the flavor! x

  • Avatar
    Reply Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) February 13, 2015 at 6:34 am

    Um, I LOVE you for posting a recipe with sea urchin. That is all. <3 <3 <3

  • Avatar
    Reply bev @ bevcooks February 13, 2015 at 6:41 am

    You’re KIDDING. I’m so diggin’ on this. I’ve never eaten urchin before, but I like saying the word, so . . . I’m in.

  • Avatar
    Reply Allison February 13, 2015 at 7:56 am

    I love Cacio e Pepe but have never tried sea urchin before. It seems to be one of those things that people either love or hate. I will say it doesn’t have the most appetizing appearance but I’d be willing to give it a try.

  • Avatar
    Reply Millie l Add A Little February 13, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Oooh gorgeous Adrianna – one of my mum’s favourites too!

  • Avatar
    Reply cynthia February 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    This is so genius!! I love it. (Also, anything that tastes like “an ocean of luv” = I’m in.)

  • Avatar
    Reply Gayatri Kale February 13, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Amazing! Easy and quick recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Currently Crushing On. | How Sweet It Is February 14, 2015 at 4:23 am

    […] uni cacio e pepe. […]

  • Avatar
    Reply Emily @ Life on Food February 14, 2015 at 4:27 am

    Some of the simplest pasta dishes are my favorite. This one is right in that category. Gorgeous!

  • Avatar
    Reply Shannon February 14, 2015 at 8:43 am

    Your pictures are almost enough to make me want to eat this dish…almost. I loathe sea urchin, I have been fair and I have given it a couple of go rounds at some of the best sushi establishments, but I just can’t. It tastes like the butthole of the sea to me. I imagine a litterbox having a better taste. Maybe I’m missing something. I’m always in awe when Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain eat it and declare their love for it. But then I remind myself that they also eat intestines with the same gusto.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kari February 14, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    I have seriously been craving pasta lately. Perhaps this is my wake up call to try this. It looks incredible but I have never cooked with sea urchin before!
    Kari
    http://www.sweetteasweetie.com

  • Avatar
    Reply Kelsey M February 19, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I’ve never tried cooking with uni before and actually just saw an episode of Andrew Zimmerman where he watched how they process uni and everything- it was really cool! Maybe it’s time I give it a try!

    -Kelsey
    http://www.alittlerosemaryandtime.com