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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Abalone 101


You've heard of abalone, haven't you? You may have seen jewelry made from the shell of the abalone. Maybe where you live abalone frequents the menus of seafood restaurants.

Around here abalone is hard to get your hands on. The commercial take of abalone closed in California in 1997 and now it can only be free-dived for.


B has a friend that went diving for some abalone and was kind enough to bring us one. It was like Christmas day for B!

The above picture is what it would look like as you opened the shell. Yeah, it's not so pretty.

There are strict diving regulations. You can only dive north of San Francisco & only during certain months of the year. You may only take up to 3 abalone in a visit and not more than 24 in a year.


This is what it looks like underneath. It had already been detached and cleaned for us. The knob on top is part of the foot that would attach to the shell. You've seen this on clams or mussels as well.

This thing was massive. We didn't think to weigh it but it was 8 1/2 inches long and 5.5 inches wide. Given the size it had to be somewhere between 15 and 25 years old.

You can only free dive meaning no air-providing devices like scuba gear and you can only detach abalone by hand or with abalone irons that meet certain specifications. The abalone has to be at least 7 inches long... no taking babies. Oh and no use of boats so you need to swim out your darn self. Really, that's not the half of it.


The next step is cutting off all the purple parts but all this talk about diving has made me hungry. While B preps our abalone I think I'll make sure this ice cream is in good condition.

I regularly dive into our freezer for the elusive carton of ice cream. There are very strict regulations that include but are not limited to partaking in ice cream only after dinner, never eating out of the container, using only ice cream specific scoops, and no more than 1/2 cup per day. Also, no digging for large pieces of cookie specifically.

Of course, all regulations are null and void during the 10 month gestation period. Amen.


After the cutting of the weird purple stuff we are left with this. Unlike clams or mussels the abalone flesh is much more solid. You can tell by the way the flesh shows the knife marks.

I can only describe the texture as similar to tako (octopus) or mirugai (geoduck) or giant clam. That description probably doesn't help any of you. In any case its solid with a bit of chew to it... but sliced thinly so you aren't gnawing. It's so fresh it doesn't taste the least bit fishy. It's mild and ever so slightly oceany.

For the record there are ways to cook this (and I'm sure change the texture) but for today we're just covering the raw element.


B sliced it very thinly and then made a sauce for it. Apparently this is the same type of sauce his grandfather used to make. It's a base of white wine vinegar with freshly grated ginger, grated garlic, white pepper, black pepper and a splash of soy.

Have you ever had abalone? How was it prepared?


  1. I have never had abalone. I am willing to try anything once so if you could bring some over I will be glad to indulge. Just so long as B fixes it cuz I am not sure I could.

  2. I've never eaten it but I do have several of the lovely shells that we've picked up at yard sales. I'm certain in CA the shells are easy to find but not in Iowa.

  3. That's pretty cool. And that must've been a darn good friend to do all of that work and bring it to you. Veddy interesting.

  4. Ooh, I love abalone! Precious commodity. It's always such a treat whenever the dishes come with abalone. Here the abalone is served in thin slices together with mushrooms on a bed of some sort of veggie (I don't know the name... it's like bok choy but bigger and greener), with some sauce.

  5. You finally got me! HA!! Never had it but you've piqued my curiosity! : )

  6. How fun!!! I can't wait to show this to Justin. He's a fisherman so I know he'll appreciate it. :)-Holly

  7. I've never had it! (And if I'm being honest, I probably never will! AH! I'm such a rotter!) Anyway, I love that there are so many regulations to protect these amazing creatures. Makes you really relish this one, doesn't it! The last picture really looks delicious. I might have even tried a bite if I was there. ;o)

  8. You guys amaze me. That B knows how to make a ginger sauce is unbelievable. My honey wouldn't even know what ginger looks like in the store;)

    Can't believe all the rules for the abalone. That was really interesting. I hope it was as good as all the trouble of getting it. True treasure indeed!

  9. Ha ha, but you never said if YOU liked it!! How's that kind of adventurous eating while pregnant?? Just curious.

  10. Never had it but it looks so amazing. I just love seafood in the summer. I think I like your ice cream even more however.

    Love and Hugs ~~ Kat

  11. I've never had it. I'm not fond of raw fish, but this was an interesting post. It seems that if someone has to work that hard to get it, they must really enjoy it!

  12. I've never heard about it, but it looks like it's really delicious!

  13. Oh my gosh, this is one food I just wasnt aware of, I didnt know it was eaten, just remember seeing the perdy shells. How cool. I will have to look it up, I can even imagine having to follow all those laws out here...but then again, all we have are catfish...yeah. Awesome.


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