New York City chef Camille Becerra ran the beloved restaurant Paloma in Greenpoint before a devastating fire closed it in 2008. After taking some time off, working as a writer and recipe developer, she returns as chef at Navy, a cozy, seafood-focused maritime canteen in Soho. While early dishes like crispy gnocci and a pork chop with pickled goji berries will likely rotate in and out with the change of the seasons, there is one dish that is already in what we’d call the Spreadable Things Hall of Fame. Uni butter. Yes, Ms. Becerra went there. And we have the recipe to share with you (though you’ll have to find the uni, or sea urchin, yourself; we’d suggest trying Japanese markets if there’s one in your area, or Asian grocers with a fresh seafood section).
“Uni has such a beautiful balance of sweet and briny notes which makes it great to cook with,” says the chef. “Many chefs have applied a butter-uni sauce to pasta, but I prefer to spread it thin on toast.” This toast was inspired by an April Bloomfield dish — the John Dory chef makes an oyster pan roast served with a side of uni butter spread on a thin baguette. “I thought it was so yum, it should be its star on a dish,” says Becerra, tipping her toque.
- 10-12 lobes uni
- 1 stick cultured butter
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- sea salt, to taste
- 4 slices thick cut bread, toasted
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 teaspoons chili oil
- 1 lemon, cut into 4 wedges
- flaky sea salt
- 8 sorrel leaves (optional)
- Allow the butter to soften to room temperature.
- In a food processor blend the uni until smooth and gradually add the softened butter. Continue to blend until the butter is completely incorporated, adding the lemon juice while the machine is still running.
- Add sea salt to taste and chill butter until firm, about an hour.
- When you are ready to serve, toast the bread. Using a spoon scrape the now-hardened butter and top on toast.
- Finish with thinly sliced celery, a few drops of chili oil, a squeeze of lemon wedge, flakey sea salt and sorrel leaves (optional).
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