"Sea Urchin (Uni)" Bafun Uni, Murasaki Uni

Last updated: 13 Jul 2023  |  4458 Views  | 

ไข่หอยเม่น อูนิ Sea Urchin Uni

Bafun Uni and Murasaki Uni are types of sea urchin, specifically the edible parts known as "uni" in Japan. Each variety comes from a different species of sea urchin, leading to their unique taste, color, and texture profiles. Let's explore them in more detail.


Bafun Uni (馬糞ウニ)
Bafun Uni is scientifically known as ‘Hemicentrotus pulcherrimus’. This species is typically smaller than others and is commonly found in the colder waters of Hokkaido, the northernmost part of Japan.

Bafun Uni is characterized by its small, firm, and bright orange to yellowish lobes, referred to as gonads or roe, which are the edible part of the sea urchin. It has a rich, sweet, and slightly briny flavor with a creamy and smooth texture that uni enthusiasts highly prize. It's commonly served as sushi or sashimi, or incorporated into various dishes to add an umami kick.



Murasaki Uni (紫ウニ)
Murasaki Uni is known scientifically as ‘Strongylocentrotus nudus’. They are larger and more abundant than the Bafun Uni, typically found in the warmer waters from the middle to southern parts of Japan.

The roe of Murasaki Uni is larger, ranging in color from light yellow to a golden hue. Its flavor is more subtle compared to Bafun Uni, with a mild sweetness and a delicate oceanic undertone. The texture is also softer and less dense, sometimes described as custard-like. When used in dishes, Murasaki Uni imparts a gentle umami flavor. It's often used in sushi, pasta, risotto, or enjoyed simply on its own to appreciate its nuanced taste.

Bafun Uni and Murasaki Uni, while both being sea urchin roe, offer distinctly different gastronomic experiences. Bafun Uni is all about intensity in flavor, color, and texture, while Murasaki Uni provides a softer, subtler experience. Both are celebrated in Japanese cuisine and are increasingly appreciated globally for their unique and complex characteristics.

  • The word "uni" (ウニ) in both names translates to "sea urchin,".
  • The word "Bafun" (馬糞) literally translates to "horse dung" due to the appearance of the urchin's shell.
  • The word "Murasaki" (紫) translates to "purple," referring to the hue of the urchin's shell.


Key Differences
Bafun Uni and Murasaki Uni, while both types of sea urchin roe, have several key differences in terms of their taste, color, texture, and size

  • Size
    • Bafun Uni comes from the smaller sea urchin, found in colder waters.
    • Murasaki Uni comes from the larger sea urchin, found in warmer waters.
    • This difference in size also results in the size of the roe, with Bafun Uni being smaller than Murasaki Uni.

  • Color
    • Bafun Uni generally has a vibrant orange to a yellowish hue.
    • Murasaki Uni is often a paler yellow to golden in color.

  • Taste
    • Bafun Uni is known for its rich, sweet, and slightly briny flavor that is intense and robust.
    • Murasaki Uni has a milder, subtler sweetness with a gentle oceanic undertone.

  • Texture
    • Bafun Uni's texture is dense, creamy, and smooth.
    • Murasaki Uni has a softer, almost custard-like consistency.


Health Benefits
Sea urchin roe, including Bafun Uni and Murasaki Uni, is not only a delicacy but also packed with various health benefits due to its nutrient-rich composition. Here are some of the primary health benefits

  • Rich in Nutrients
    Sea urchin roe is a good source of protein, providing essential amino acids necessary for body repair and maintenance. It also contains a significant amount of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin B12, zinc, iodine, and copper, which are necessary for various bodily functions.

  • High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    Like many other seafood, sea urchin roe is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These are known to promote heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

  • Good Source of Zinc
    Sea urchin roe is an excellent source of zinc, a mineral essential for immune function, wound healing, and DNA synthesis.

  • Vitamin B12
    It is a rich source of Vitamin B12, which is essential for nerve function and the production of DNA and red blood cells.

  • Beneficial for Skin and Eyes
    Due to the high presence of antioxidants, such as Vitamin A and E, consuming sea urchin roe could help maintain healthy skin and eyes.


However, while sea urchin roe has many health benefits, it's also high in cholesterol, so it's best to consume it in moderation. Additionally, like other shellfish and seafood, sea urchin roe can cause allergic reactions in some people, so it's essential to be cautious if you've never consumed it before or if you have known seafood allergies.

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