Abalone is an exclusive and expensive ocean delicacy, but does it need to be cooked before you eat it?
Like many ocean-based foods, you don’t need to cook abalone to eat it. You can consume abalone raw, straight out of the shell, with little-to-no preparation. In Japan, a common dish is an abalone prepared as sashimi or sushi, totally raw and cut into thin slices for consumption.
Read on to learn more about abalone and the best way to consume it.
There are few things more versatile and varied than seafood, with certain types of fish being preparable in dozens of different ways.
Take salmon, for example – an extremely common and plentiful fish that is consumed in most countries around the world. It can be baked, grilled, poached, roasted, or just eaten raw, straight off the fish.
The same can be said for tuna, which can be prepared in a very similar fashion to salmon. There’s an expansive host of ocean-based delicacies that can be eaten in many different ways, and abalone is certainly counted among them.
Abalone isn’t something the average person will have heard of; it’s unique, fairly exclusive, and only really eaten in certain countries. However, where it is eaten, it’s sought-after, quite expensive, and can be prepared in many different ways.
At first sight, abalone isn’t the most appetizing thing you’ll have ever seen. It’s almost shapeless, it’s difficult to discern any identifying features, and ultimately, it’s a sea snail.
The ocean is a hotbed for strange and delightful foods: lobster, oysters, clams, mussels, and more. There are some considerably odd things that we take from the ocean to eat, and they almost always end up tasting way better than they look.
This is especially true with abalone, which admittedly looks quite terrible, but reportedly tastes amazing. It can be prepared in several different ways, which peak and trough in popularity, depending on which country you’re in.
For example, in Australia, they apparently prefer to grill or steam their abalone. They remove the snail from its shell, cook it up, adorn it with a sauce or a garnish, and return it to the shell for a bonus aesthetical boost.
In South Korea, abalone is sliced into chunks and added into a mixture of oils and seasonings. This mix is then simmered to produce what is known as a ‘congee’.
How About You Don’t Cook It?
However, there are countries that massively prefer their abalone to be consumed raw, straight out of the shell. The most common country to follow this practice is Japan, wherein abalone is a popular delicacy.
In Japan, abalone is prepared as sashimi or sushi, right alongside fish such as salmon, tuna, or sea bass. It’s cut into thin, tender slices and traditionally eaten with a splash of soy sauce.
As we continue to explore other countries, we arrive in China, the biggest consumer – and producer – of abalone in the world. They eat more than any other country and export enormous amounts of the delicacy.
In China, they prefer to eat abalone in soups that consist of duck, chicken, or vegetables. It’s a rich and historic dish that can be traced back to the Ming dynasty, some six hundred years ago.
You can find abalone in many restaurants across the United States, but they do tend to occur more commonly in places where abalone is actually found. This is mostly around California, where strict regulations have been put in place, owing to its popularity.
It’s difficult to catch wild abalone in the first place, owing to the fact that it’s small, very well camouflaged, and clings to rocky surfaces. However, fishermen in California are often subject to laws that restrict them from catching any more than a certain amount every day.
However, there are sustainable efforts dotted all around the coastlines of the state that produce farmed abalone. It lowers the cost and heightens the availability of the delicacy, but it reportedly isn’t as good as fresh, wild abalone.
Fortunately, this means if you do develop a taste for the strange and almost indiscernible delicacy, you won’t be hard-pressed to find it. Although, you will be paying quite a bit for the experience, as abalone dishes don’t come cheap.
In terms of weight, abalone can cost as much as five hundred dollars per kilo. For something that’s said to boast a long list of health benefits and taste amazing, maybe that price isn’t so bad.