Cooking Farmed Abalone

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Posted by seahunt on July 16, 2008 at 06:07:09:

I got a call from my buddy, John. He was in Korea Town and had found this fish store that
had live, farm raised abalone as well as all kinds of other ... interesting stuff that ...
could be eaten. He said I had to come over and get this together.

We were going to break in his new kitchen by making a grand meal. Since neither
of us had ever prepared the small farmed abalone, he wanted me to confab about
how to cook it.

You have to break in a new kitchen right.

The abalone were in sea water in a plastic bag in an ice chest. John said there were
hundreds in a tank at the store. They really clamped down when the clerk tried to
get them. They were cute little things.

Now I've prepared hundreds of wild caught legal sized abalone from 5.5 inch black abalone
to fat
10 inch reds along with whites, greens and pinks of assorted sizes, but I have never prepared
a wild or farmed 3 inch red. You're only going to get one shot at it and there are numerous
ways to ruin this dish. The question was how hard was it going to be.
Large abalone have a consistency somewhere between rubber and brick hard. They
usually have to be sliced and pounded for any hope of edibility. Then they have
to be cooked very hot or it's going to take a knife. On rare occasions you get
an abalone that died happy and the meat is actually very soft and can make a
great sashimi. How tough these were was going to determine how they had to be

The first question is how to get them out of the shell. I should have brought my
full sized abalone iron. It would have been perfect. Instead I used a spreading
knife. You don't want to cut out the abalone, you want to separate it from its
shell. So you part scrape it out and you part pry it.

As soon as I got it out, I knew what it would take to cook it. It was as hard as a rock.
It was going to need a flash cooking.

At this point a large kitchen is nice. Debbie was preparing fresh mushrooms, cucumber, broccoli
and scallions. The abalone was to be the appetizer, but that didn't stop me from raiding
the mushrooms. John was going to cook some whole fish for the main event.

The abalone have two, sort of skirts around the central foot. These need to be cut off.
The upper one is the guts and the head. The lower one is all the little sensor antennas
that stick out around the abalone from under its shell when it is not clamped down. It
takes a small sharp knife to take these off and you want to cut carefully as
not to lose any of the abalone meat or cut open the gut. The way to cut these off
is looking down at the abalone with the head (look for it) turned towards you, at
6 o’clock. You want to cut clockwise starting at about 7 o’clock, just clockwise from
the head. When you get to the guts, turn the abalone upside down so that the guts
pull away from the foot. When you get almost to the head, 5 o’clock, cut in a little
to cut out the head. Cut out as little as possible. You do basically the same a bit
lower to take off the next skirt. Cut it even with the outside of the central

Then you have to clean everything. The foot would be cut off on a big abalone,
but on these little ones just scrape it clean with a knife or a good brush.
There is a black slime coating around the sides of the foot itself. This too must be
scraped off with a brush or knife. I used a knife. Then clean everything pristine
with fresh water.

Because of the size, I decided to cut the foot into two slices before
pounding. It probably wasn't necessary. The pieces were pounded with s regular sized
ab pounder.

John was trying to find suitable spices in the new kitchen, but Debbie had
thrown most of them out at the beginning of the kitchen remodel. He finally found a
nice fresh bottle of garden herb spice for salads. It would provide the mild
spicing needed. No garlic needed for this dish.

John had things situated and started heating olive oil in a stainless sauce
pan. He tossed in some butter and was about to put in the abalone when he hit the
stops. The butter had already started burning. It would ruin the abalone. He cleaned
out the pan and started the olive oil heating again. This time he sprinkled the herbs
on the abalone and put some butter on those. When the oil was hot again, he flipped
the abalone over into the pan. Stir, flip, stir. In about 20 seconds it was done.
The abalone was as tender as it comes. It cut just fine with a fork. The flavor
was excellent. This was sautéed abalone at its finest right out of the pan.
John started frying up the two snappers for the main event. The mushrooms and
scallions were sautéed in the same pan with the flavoring from the abalone.
During the meal, John pulled out another surprise from the market, Kim Che.
Now I know all about that from my time in the Silicon Valley, but I had never
tried it. ... Hot hot hot, pepper and garlic! This wasn't near as pungent as I
have smelled before and was pretty darn good. It all made a fantastic meal to sit
down and enjoy slowly. Everybody had a good time.

Monterey Abalone Company

Carlsbad Aqua Farm

The Abalone Farm

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