Sea-urchin

Sea-urchin: a tasty and food specialty in Tuy Phong

BTO – Owning rough shape with many pointed spines, sea urchins or bridges pinch is one of valuable food specialties which can be processed into many delicious dishes…

Gift of the ocean

Sea-urchin is a kind of mollusk species, living in shallow waters where water-plants and mosses, coral reef cluster in abundance. The hunting season of sea-urchin normally falls on April until July depending on the weather. Hunters can find out succulent urchins often at dark nights and the less tasty ones on nights with moon light, according to Pham Van Tai – hamlet 2, Binh Thanh commune, Tuy Phong district.

Long time ago, La Gan cape region (Binh Thuan) has become the home to many species of sea urchins such as black urchin, silver urchin, etc. Those are portly, but the black urchins are the biggest in the size of a hand. It is estimated that about 10-12 urchins are weighed one kilogram. Each urchin has 16 sections of firm, tasty and fatty muscle.

As told by local fishermen, sea urchin used to be at dirt-cheap prices and some fishermen formerly caught urchins for the purpose of meal improvement. Nowadays, as urchins become a food specialty, urchin-hunting also emerges as a livelihood. The indigenous fishers compared the urchin-hunting job as familiar as picking up “money” in the sea, so urchin is regarded as a gift of the ocean offering to the poor.

The so-called urchin-hunting is rather simple because the “workplace” is only few tens of kilometers from the shore with simple tools (a distorted iron stick, a fish-hook, diving-goggles and a basket to contain urchins). To catch urchins, divers go diving along the pebbles and gravels and use the iron hook to pull up the urchins and put them in the baskets. It seems to be an easy job to do, but with a full basket of fresh urchins, it is no less hard and fatigued than others.

Diving for urchins or urchin-diving requires diver’s skills, good heath and endurance to soak in the water for a long time. Moreover, sea urchin has many pointed spines that can sting and cause pain and numbness in the fingers by a small mistake. The fishers only catch the grown and big urchins, so the exploitation of urchins does not affect much to the growth of sea urchins in general.

“Revenue from urchin-hunting is quite good with the price ranging from VND 450,000 to 500,000 per kg of cut-up flesh of urchins and from VND 20,000-25,000 per kg of urchins as a whole”, shared Nguyen Thi Huong, an urchin trader .

High food value…

Many people said that urchin is a both lovely and hateful produce. People hate them because their surrounding spines can make pain, but they love them because they are a high valuable food, which is dubbed as a “natural Viagra” source. After cutting off all the spines, cleaving it into two and discarding all the innards, the rest (opaque golden meat) is the most precious part of the urchin. Urchin’s meat can be processed into various dishes: gruel, dish made of raw urchins and vegetable, grilled urchin with fat and onion, fried rice, grilled chopped urchins…

Dishes processed from urchin provide more energy, positive and complementary effects, helping faster recuperate, digest the eaten food well and especially increase vigor for men. The most popular way to eat urchins of fishermen in Tuy Phong is to cut off the urchin into two vertically and grill them over charcoal fire. By only cursory roast, grilled sea urchin is really tasty, delicious and sweet when dipping it in sauce made of salt and pepper with lemon.

As tourists nationwide are flocking to Co Thach pagoda tourist area for sightseeing and sea-bathing, many of them insist on trying dishes made from sea urchins as a worth eating food during their arrival to the locality.

My Thien (Source: Binh Thuan Newspaper)

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