Abalone

Most of us are familiar with the beautiful abalone shell, the blue, pink and silver wavy center that makes us think of the ocean, and even the crusty outside that has the mysterious holes. Abalone are a sea creature that lives in the rocky areas of the shore, and up to 30′ deep, and are present world wide. Many ancient cultures hunted and consumed abalone, and in modern times they are farmed.

Large abalone shell interior via Wikimedia Commons

I haven’t eaten abalone, so I can’t say what it tastes like. Abalone harvested out of the shell has a slightly suggestive appearance, which is why there isn’t a picture here. You can google to see what I mean. It is a popular luxury food item in China, Japan and Korea, as well as in Latin American countries, France and New Zealand. Native cultures, such as Maori and Tasmanian have strong ties to abalone harvesting as well. In America, it became popular between 1920-1930 due to better advertising and communication, to the point that abalone in California is strictly protected. In South Africa, abalone are on the protected species list but are being decimated due to illegal harvesting by poachers. There exists an illegal black market trade for abalone meat worldwide.

Big pile of abalone shells circa 1930 via SFGate.com

Should you come by some abalone meat and would like to cook it, this is a simple recipe without much elaboration. Keep in mind that the abalone meat is muscular like a clam, so the need to tenderize it is an important step. Sorry there isn’t more to this. However, cleaning the abalone may be necessary depending on its source. I’m not sure how farmed abalone arrives in the store, but wild will have a slick coating and need to be cleaned well. You may want to look here to see some step by step cleaning instructions with pictures.

Abalone

Tenderize – pound well, keep heat low

Cooking time – 1 1/2 minute for friend each side, broiled in pan max 5 minutes each side

Generally clean – slice & pound well, salt & pepper, roll in egg & ground crumbs

Sauce – butter, lemon juice, chopped onion, crush garlic

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