Creamy Uni Pasta with Fennel Fronds

by Tokyo Terrace on February 6, 2011

The other day, we went to a Butoh performance with a few of our friends in Tokyo. Butoh is a style of dance that feels like watching a Picasso painting that has come to life. Very minimalist style with much room for interpretation, Butoh is a beautifully and refreshingly different type of performance. One that I never thought I would truly appreciate. I’m sure I would not like all Butoh performances, as some are grotesque and, as my husband described it, “Marilyn Manson-esque”. This does not exactly describe some of my favorite styles. However, the particular show we saw was calming in a sense. There was no speaking, little as far as a set on stage, and the movements were slow, steady, and graceful. Here are some clips from the same performance we saw: Sankai Juku. The majority of the music was lovely, with the occasional low buzzing noise. Didn’t care for that.

Attending this performance made me remember how important it is to experience something new every once in a while. We get so caught up in the everyday grind that the idea of seeing a show or exploring a new area of the city seems to float away. I guess that just goes to show that no matter where you live, you are susceptible to becoming “beige”. Everything is the same. A little splash of color on occasion is all we need to spruce things up!

This Uni Pasta is a great way to change the typical creamy pasta recipe. Uni (sea urchin) is a creamy, nutty flavored delicacy, especially in Japan. Really good sea urchin tastes of salt water from the ocean with a sweet hint of hazelnut. Seems strange, I know, but trust me. It’s like nothing else I’ve ever tasted. A sure way to impress your Japanese friends is to eat fresh uni. We often get asked two questions: Do you eat natto? NO! Do you eat uni? YES!

Don’t fret if you can’t access good, fresh uni. You can add something else for a little splash of color! Be creative. Find something that will enhance and liven up the flavor of the pasta that you perhaps would not have used on any regular day. Even adding a little squash or pumpkin puree is a great way to lighten up and add flavor to rich, creamy pasta dishes. Sprinkle a few toasted hazelnuts and few parsley leaves on top and you’re all set!

If you do decide to use uni, make sure to add it just at the end before serving. This will preserve the flavor as much as possible. If you can’t taste it, what’s the point, right?

Creamy Uni Pasta with Fennel Fronds

Makes 4 servings

1 pound spaghetti or angel hair pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cream

1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

zest of 1/2 a lemon

salt and black pepper

About 3 oz. fresh sea urchin

1/3 cup loosely packed fennel fronds or flat leaf parsley

Begin by cooking the pasta in boiling, salted water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to soften (about 2-3 minutes) being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the red pepper flakes and cook another 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cream, parmesan cheese and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook gently until heated through. Add the cooked pasta to the cream, reserving some of the pasta water. Toss the pasta to coat with the cream. Remove the pasta from the heat and stir in the sea urchin and fennel fronds, reserving some of the fennel for garnish.

Serve immediately topped with a piece of uni, fennel fronds and extra parmesan if desired.

Related Posts with Thumbnails
  • Stuart Reb Donald

    That looks awesome!

  • Stuart Reb Donald

    That looks awesome!

  • Stuart Reb Donald

    That looks awesome!

  • Food Frenzy

    Looks delicious and great photos.

    We invite you to share this post and some of your favorite food posts on Food Frenzy.
    Please check out our community at

  • Veggietestkitchen

    It’s a very simple dish, but I can almost taste the pasta from the description (minus the uni). I love simple fresh pasta with good cream, butter and simple seasoning. And yes, it’s always nice to throw a little something in there that you wouldn’t otherwise. i usually feel compelled to throw in some kind of, any kind of, vegetable because i feel so guilty eating pasta!

  • Sandra

    Oh my..that looks amazing! Fantastic photos!

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Creamy Uni Pasta with Fennel Fronds — Tokyo Terrace :: An American Foodie in Tokyo --

  • Justyna

    Not sure about the creepy Butoh as a Picasso painting – for me it was more a cross between Tracy Emin’s “Unmade Bed” and Munch’s “The Scream”. But Uni spag done properly is scrumptious!

  • Biggie

    YES! uni pasta – I like!

  • Hester

    Mmm, uni! It does have a delicate and unique flavor. I don’t have it nearly enough as I would probably like. How creative this pasta is! Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea :-)

  • Sophia Fukunishi

    Wow. This looks delicious! Can’t wait to try this for myself.

  • Catherine

    This looks really good. You have a very nice site and many beautiful photos!

  • Cursuri Cosmetica

    Being such a pasta addict, I guess I could eat them in any possible combination. But your recipe is so mouth-watering and so easy to prepare. Thank you for a great recipe.

  • Wasabiprime

    Cheers to such a bold dish! I admit, I’ve not yet had uni. I think because I know it’s a delicacy and I’ve never had it before, I want to have it prepared for me first, just so I can appreciate it in its best possible way before I try preparing it at home. But I like your description of it. Everyone always talks about it like it’s some indescribable mystery, so your details are definitely helpful!!

  • camille

    Am I the only one who thinks the cream being labeled “Pantry Cream” is hilarious? Maybe because it’s naughtiness-adjacent, I don’t know, but I’m giggling like an idiot over here.

  • Anonymous

    It is pretty hilarious, isn’t it? The first time I saw it I thought it was a joke!

  • Anonymous

    Oh, you MUST try uni! Make sure it’s good stuff though- if it isn’t it won’t seem worth it. Can’t wait to read about your first experience with sea urchin as soon as it happens!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! I’m so happy you like TT! I hope you stop by again soon.

  • Anonymous

    Sure! I’m so glad you like it!

  • Sade Williams

    This looks incredible! The photography is lovely, too. :) I can feel the freshness of that Uni!

Previous post:

Next post: