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5 Delicious Ways to Cook and Eat Live Abalone

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by Lionel (subscribe)
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Published October 26th 2012

Although there are more than 100 species of abalone around the world, they tend to feature less in European cuisine compared to other shellfish like mussels, scallops, pippies, oysters, clams and even marine snails like periwinkles. Australia alone is home to 18 species with 10 unique to the continent including the blacklip and greenlip abalone but they are rarely used in Australian cooking. They are more familiar and sought after in Cantonese, Japanese and Korean cuisine which understand and appreciate their light and sweet flavours.

Handling the abalone is actually as easy as cleaning and cooking mussels or periwinkles. I usually buy my live abalone at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne.

To prepare the abalone for cooking, all I do is slide a short-bladed knife around the edge between the shell and the flesh to remove the meat. I cut off the intestine and small piece of gristle at the head end and set them aside, as I do use them. Then trim off the frill and lip, cut a thin layer off the surface of the foot that attaches to the rocks and rinse and dry. For larger abalones, you may need to tenderise horizontally-cut pieces by pounding lightly with a meat mallet but this is not required for the live baby abalone. You are now ready to cook.

A classic method of preparation in the US involves breading and frying but the delicate flavour of the abalone is best when cooked simply, either as sashimi or sushi, steamed, grilled, stir-fried or blanched in soup stock. Here are 5 delicious ways to cook and eat the live abalone.

1). Steamed abalone Cantonese style

This style is best with baby abalones like the ones I usually consume at Nam Loong in Melbourne. The cleaned abalone is returned to the shell, garnished with julienne ginger and finely chopped garlic and steamed for 3 to 5 mins. A tablespoon of soy sauce mixed with hot oil, julienne spring onion and coriander is splashed over the abalone before serving.

2). Grilled abalone Japanese style

Grilling on a charcoal stove is one of the popular ways of cooking live baby abalone at fish market eateries around Japan. The entire abalone including innards is cooked in its own juices and then eaten with a soy, sake and ponzu dip.

3). Abalone sashimi and sushi

In Japan, the live baby abalone or awabi is prepared as sashimi and sushi where you can best enjoy its fresh and light crunchy sweetness with a little dash of soy and wasabi. You can also find larger versions prepared in the sashimi way but sliced paper-thin in Hong Kong-style restaurants.

4). Korean style abalone congee

The abalone congee or "jun bok jook" is most popular in South Korea. The abalone is clean and sliced into small pieces. They are added to rice and sesame oil, combined and slowly simmered to produce a light and sweet congee topped with chopped spring onion.

5). Abalone in hotpot

Abalone is regarded as a delicacy in Chinese cooking since the Ming Dynasty. In China, large abalone is cut into thin slices and thrown into a rich soup base of duck, chicken and winter melon.

The Cantonese-style live abalone in hotpot prepared by restaurants like Golden Century in Sydney simply blanch the abalone slices in a superior soup stock to bring out the flavours.
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Why? Abalone is actually easy to prepare and can be enjoyed in many ways
When: Anytime your budget allows for an abalone treat
Where: Live seafood and fish markets and seafood restaurants
Cost: Varies from venue to venue
Your Comment
How much do you usually pay at Vic markets? I only saw. One shop selling them today but they were frozen. $3, product of Australia. Seems really cheap no? Any method best suit frozen ones? Was thinking steam, with a couple seconds on a really Hot pan at the end to sear some colour
by Stock (score: 0|2) 2592 days ago
I go get them fresh from Ocean. to eat me some abolne my grandma is Korean raised on this great food from Pacific coastline
by sccal (score: 0|2) 2579 days ago
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