Sea Urchin | Kina
Taste the flavours of the sea in one shell!
What do you need to know about New Zealand’s sea urchin?
New Zealand sea urchins are locally known for its Maori name Kina. Kina is a sea urchin species found in New Zealand out of 200 types of sea urchin all over the world. Kina is closely related to sea stars they are an easily recognized type of marine animals. It has hard spiny brown spikes covering its shell with symmetrical insides. The dead Kina shell turns green after it loses its spines. The most sought after edible part of Kina is called the Kina Roe found inside its shell. The ideal colour of Kina roe is orange to yellow depending on the season.
Although Kina is available all year round in the coastal areas of Bay of Islands. The best time to harvest sea urchin is during spring when the Kina roe almost doubles its production.
The Kina roe is made up of male or female gonads and is considered to be a delicacy of the early Maori, and is also well sought overseas for its unique and delicate taste.
What does Kina taste like?
There is nothing quite like the taste of sea urchin. One would describe Kina as packed with the sum of all the flavours of the sea. It has a rich and sweet taste. Others would say that it’s like a seafood version of foie gras that melts in your mouth. With all that being said, there are also other people who dislike the taste of Kina. It is safe to say that it is an acquired taste and you will either love it or hate it.
Where can you eat Kina in New Zealand?
Travelling to New Zealand wouldn’t be as spectacular if you haven’t had a try of the local sea urchin. If you’re a sushi enthusiast and you love Uni then you have got to try New Zealand’s Kina. You can find raw Kina roe in any supermarket here in New Zealand, you can also find them at any local restaurant in the country.
Here in the Bay of Islands, as part of our tradition at The Rock NZ we crack open a fresh Kina for our guests to try on our cruise back to Pahia wharf. We call them Kina shots, served straight from the Kina shell. Our guests either love them or hate them but it definitely adds to the fun experience at The Rock NZ.
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