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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

That's Abalone, Baby

Someone dropped off a fresh abalone at the Bower house not long ago. I asked John (my dad-in-law) if I could clean it, since he does it and I just get to watch. Like many men, he has trouble delegating tasks, especially to someone like me who has very little experience. But it only took a little convincing (and grinning) to win him over. He was definitely still "in charge" with his running commentary on my technique (or lack thereof).

So here's how to clean an abalone. Incidentally, this is also how to kill an abalone, since it is alive when you get it (or should be, I wouldn't eat it if it was dead in the shell). You can tell if it is still alive by poking it and seeing if it moves a little.

In the shell:

Removing it from the shell:

Removing the guts, or the “asshole” as John likes to say:

Slicing off the black flesh from the edges. John doesn't like to eat this part, but I always take these black scraps home to add to chowders:

Then we tenderized it (aka, pounded the ba-Jesus out of it with a special 2x4 reserved just for this task) until it became a bit softer. Remember that abalone is a giant muscle and it is super tough until you pound on it for a while. Then we took it inside to slice it into 1/4" pieces and took a meat tenderizer to it until you swear it is falling apart (making extra sure we get the edges soft). We dipped each piece in egg, then breaded it in flour and fried it in olive oil and butter until just golden brown. (Of course, what isn't good fried in butter?)

Admittedly, this is the only way I've ever eaten abalone and I'm sure there are other ways to prepare it. But since this method is soooooooooooo good I'm not eager to find other ways.

If you've tenderized it enough, it will be fork tender. We always eat ours with just a little salt and pepper and a big serving of garlicky pesto pasta. This ranks as one of Dave's favorite meals and I totally understand why. Abalone is mouth-wateringly scrumptious. No doubt about it.

1 comment:

steph.kelley said...

What a trash-to-treasure meal: take a football-sized snotty mollusc, hit it for hours with a big stick, and you get Dave's favorite meal — magic. :P (That's jealousy talking, believe it.)