Number 53: Abalone

18 Jan

There have been many times during this blogging journey that I’ve felt completely lost.  The time that I almost burnt my apartment down by trying to fry plantains, the time that I attempted to shuck raw oysters, the time that I wandered through Chinatown searching for durian…  But today topped them all.  I never even knew what abalone was until I started this challenge, and I certainly didn’t know how to find it, clean it, or prepare it.

After a long time of searching, I finally found some frozen abalone at our local H Mart.  It was 16 bucks, but whatever.  I found it.  After a couple months of putting it off, I finally thawed it out so I could get started.  The problem is that I didn’t know HOW to get started.

I spent a loooong time on the internet trying to figure out how to clean these slimy beasts, but everything that I read just made me feel more confused.  For all I knew, my abalone were already cleaned!  Nothing I read helped at all.  Everyone kept talking about the foot and the mouth and the gills and the viscera, but all I could see was a big alien suction cup in front of me.  I ended up making up my own rule: cut off anything that looks nasty or filthy (which included two weird tentacle-like things that I found near one end).  Here’s the result:

Everything I read online said to then slice the abalone into thin slices.  Thanks to my crappy non-sharp knives, I ended up taking kitchen shears to the abalone to cut it.  The pieces ended up being abnormally shaped and not thin at all, but I had pretty much already given up at that point.

I then decided to saute the slices in butter, which ended up being another challenge.  Every website had different opinions on how long to saute the abalone.  Some said 2 seconds, some said 10 seconds, some said 20 seconds, some said one minute…I ended up doing about 30 seconds per side.

I think I probably cooked it too long, as the texture ended up being kind of rubbery (like calamari), but I personally would rather do it a little too long and not get food poisoning.  The flavor was subtle and was actually very meaty for fish.  I served it with some sauteed garlic, mushrooms, and spinach, and squeezed a meyer lemon slice over the top.  It wasn’t bad!

Everything that I read on the internet said that abalone is the greatest thing in the world and that if you manage to get your hands on some, well, you’re pretty much the luckiest person on earth.  I’m pretty sure that if I had known anything about cleaning or preparing abalone, it would have been better, but this time around, it didn’t strike me as God’s gift to man.  The texture wasn’t great (my fault) but the flavor was pleasant.  I’d have it again if it didn’t cost around $20/lb!


3 Responses to “Number 53: Abalone”

  1. Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic January 19, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    See reason 20 why I love your blog you teach me about new foods. Sure I’ve seen Big Macs before but this… never! I’m curious about it but not enough to try to find it and cook it maybe keep my eyes peeled for it on menus around the world. Thank you for doing all these and opening my eyes 🙂

  2. Laura in Cancun January 19, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    Never even heard of that! Looks pretty good, though…

  3. IntenseGuy January 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm #

    I wonder how anyone gets “experience” cooking some of these exotic dishes?

    I’ve eaten abalone – I barely remember it other than it was kinda chewy. You are cranking through this list now!

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