Rarely found on U.S. menus, this marine animal is considered a delicacy throughout Japan and many Mediterranean countries. There are many varieties (ranging in diameter from 1 to 10 inches) but all have a hard shell covered by prickly spines that make it look like a pincushion. Though it can be briefly cooked, sea urchin roe is more often scooped out of the shell with a spoon and consumed raw. A popular method of serving sea urchin roe is to heap it atop a slice of French bread and sprinkle it with lemon juice.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.