Saturday, August 1, 2009


For much of humanity's history, man has recognised that various foods affect his libido. The word aphrodisiac comes from the name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, who, in turn, took her name from the Greek word aphro (sea foam). According to the myth, Cronos (god of time), castrated his father, Urano, and threw his testicles into the sea, creating the sea foam that Aphrodite was born of.

Aside from extravagant and hard-to-find suggestions such as rhinocerous horns, which are pulverised in Asia and thought to be aphrodisiacal because the rhinocerous can have sex for 45 minutes; or tiger penis, which have now disappeared from Chinese menus for fear that the animal could become extinct; there are many food that contain potentially aphrodisiacal substances. Celery, raspberries, ginseng, pistachios, truffles, asparagus, cinnamon, garlic (watch your breath!), chili and peppers supposedly contain properties that increase sexual desire.

Seafood and molluscs also have a reputation for being aphrodisiacs, which comes from their high zinc content. Zinc is a fundamental mineral in the creation of testosterone and estrogen. Oysters, mussels, clams, prawns and crayfish are other wonderful options if you're trying to save money, but the gift you get after dessert should be worth the investment.

We all know that Japanese cuisine is not only aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it’s delicious and a lean source of protein. Fish to be consumed raw, it MUST BE fresher and of a higher quality/grade than cooked fish, hence the term “sushi grade” Fish should smell clean not fishy, be vivid in color, and free from harmful parasites, which is why ocean fish can be used raw; and freshwater fish should be cooked, as these fish may harbor parasites. As an adventurous eater, trying off beat items isn’t that much of a stretch for me and it was at Miyagi, where I was introduced to sea urchin for the very first time.

Uni, informally referred to as the roe, and contrary to popular belief, the portion sold and served as one of the ocean’s most opulent treasures is not the roe, it is actually the gonads! Yes, the animal’s testes which produce the milt or roe. It is the only edible part of this hermaphrodite sea creature. Uni is bright yellow and tastes sweet, light, with a firm, yet smooth, dry and paste-like texture.

Once the sea urchin is hand picked, it is delivered live to a processing plant where it is carefully cracked open. The uni is scooped out the spiny shell in five custard-like, golden sections, it is then rinsed, cleaned and set with a light brine/preserving solution before being placed into small wooden or plastic trays, the trays are refrigerated, placed in insulated containers and air shipped to customers often within 48 hours.

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