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Abalone

AbaloneUsage & RecipesNutrition and SummarySubstitutesMore Fish and Seafood

Unlike most other popular molluscs, including Scallops, Oysters and Mussels, which are bivalves with two shells hinged together, Abalone has just one shell. Called gastropods or univalves, such single-shelled creatures are often of less culinary interest than their two-shelled cousins are, but the 100 or so species of Abalone found around the world are a notable exception.

They live in the swell zone along open coastlines most commonly off Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and the west coast of North America, and so have developed a large muscular foot (called an adductor muscle) with which they firmly attach themselves to their rocky homes. This firm muscle is highly prized, especially by Asian restaurants here and overseas, making Abalone one of Australia’s most highly valued seafood species, with the meat retailing for around $100/kg.

The rough, flat, oval shells have an opalescent mother-of-pearl (nacre) interior, which makes them popular decorative items; New Zealand’s beautiful Paua is a type of Abalone. Known as perlemoen in South Africa and ormer in the UK, the spiralled whorls and shape of Abalone shells has led to the name “ear shells” or “sea ears” in many languages, including French ormeau, Italian orecchia marina, Spanish oreja de mer and Dutch zee-oor. There is a distinctive row of holes around the edge of the shell through which the Abalone breathes and spawns.

There are 18 species of Abalone in Australian waters; the 10 found in cooler waters, including the two main commercial varieties, are unique to Australia. The colour of the dark lip around the edge of their foot helps differentiate them.



Blacklip Abalone

Blacklip Abalone

Blacklip Abalone

The firm flesh of abalones is highly prized in Asian circles, and is central to some of the best Oriental seafood recipes.

Abalone meat can be stir-fried, pan-fried, poached, steamed or stewed. However, some consider it best when eaten raw, in thin strips with wasabi and soy sauce.

Another option is braised abalone. With its absorbent texture that draws other flavours beautifully, braised abalone is traditionally prepared in the Cantonese cooking style using garlic, ginger and oyster sauce. If deep-frying, the fritter is superb topped with an herb mayonnaise or minced into patties and coated with crumbs of garlic and onion. Citrus-marinated abalone combines well with shallots and parsley when pan-fried in oil or butter. Abalone also makes a wonderful addition to salads.

The best way to avoid loss of flavour and to tenderise the meat is to use the slow stewing style of cooking. Alternatively, fry it quickly on a high heat, or serve raw.

Canned abalone can be purchased from Chinese and other stores that sell imported Asian goods. It has a firm texture and does not need to be cooked. Drain the flesh, cut it up and add to a soup, casserole or stir-fry.

See Glossary : Blacklip Abalone



Greenlip Abalone

Greenlip Abalone

Greenlip Abalone

The firm flesh of abalones is highly prized in Asian circles, and is central to some of the best Oriental seafood recipes.

Abalone meat can be stir-fried, pan-fried, poached, steamed or stewed. However, it is considered by some to be best when eaten raw, in thin strips with wasabi and soy sauce.

Another option is braised abalone. With its absorbent texture that draws other flavours beautifully, braised abalone is traditionally prepared in the Cantonese cooking style using garlic, ginger and oyster sauce. If deep-frying, the fritter is superb topped with an herb mayonnaise or minced into patties and coated with crumbs of garlic and onion. Citrus-marinated abalone combines well with shallots and parsley when pan-fried in oil or butter. Abalone also makes a wonderful addition to salads.

The best way to avoid loss of flavour and to tenderise the meat is to use the slow stewing style of cooking. Alternatively, fry it quickly on a high heat, or serve raw.

Canned abalone can be purchased from Chinese and other stores that sell imported Asian goods. It has a firm texture and does not need to be cooked. Drain the flesh, cut it up and add to a soup, casserole or stir-fry.

See Glossary : Greenlip Abalone



Other Abalone

  • Tiger Abalone, a hybrid of Greenlip and Blacklip Abalones named for its sometimes striped frill, is a common aquaculture species.
  • Brownlip Abalone (Haliotis conicopora), harvested off southern Western Australia, is closely related to Blacklip Abalone.
  • The small Roe’s Abalone (Haliotis roei), also known as Redlip Abalone, is 25-36g and 7-9cm; it’s harvested off southern Western Australia but also found off South Australia.
  • Staircase Abalone (Haliotis scalaris), another smaller species, is found on inter-tidal reefs off South Australia and southern Western Australia, but isn’t harvested due to its size.
  • Whirling Abalone (Haliotis cyclobates) is another smaller species living on inter-tidal reefs off South Australia; it’s not harvested commercially.
  • Other temperate water species unique to Australia include: Brazier’s (H. brazieri), Reddish-rayed (H. coccoradiata), Elegant (H. elegans) and Semiplicate (H. semiplicata) Abalones.
  • Tropical Indo-Pacific species found in Australian waters include Donkey-ear (H. asinina), which is the fastest growing Abalone and is farmed in SE Asia; Oval (H. ovina) and Scaly Australian (H. squamata) Abalones.


Abalone Image Gallery


Buying Abalone

Abalone is available in the shell (live or frozen), as meat (frozen and vacuum-packed or dried). Farmed ‘cocktail’ Abalone is generally less expensive than Abalone harvested from the wild.

Storing Abalone

Abalone can be kept live for up to 3 days stored in a deep-sided bucket covered with a hessian sack soaked in water and stored in the coolest part of the house. Alternatively, refrigerate shucked meat for 2-3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.

Preparing Abalone

Average yield is 35%. Use a short-bladed knife to slide around the edge between the flesh and the shell, remove meat and cut off intestine (the small sack attached to the underside). Rinse and dry. Cut off the small piece of gristle at the head end (next to the small antennas), trim off the frill and lip, turn over and cut a thin layer off the surface of the foot where it attached to the rock; trim all surfaces of any dark material. Under cold running water, using a small paring knife, scrape off the brown film remaining on the sides. Slice horizontally and tenderize by placing between two freezer bags and beating lightly with a meat mallet. The frill and lip don’t need to be trimmed off cocktail Abalone, but the dark film still needs to be scraped off the foot and the sides to prevent it becoming tough; they don’t need tenderising and can be cooked whole or sliced as thinly as possible.

Cooking Abalone

Abalone is low in oil with a subtle flavour and firm texture. Greenlip has a slightly stronger flavour than Blacklip. It is best cooked very quickly over a high heat (for just a few seconds) or very slowly over a low heat (for up to 6 hours, depending on size). The meat absorbs flavours well and can be braised, steamed, poached, pan-fried, stir-fried, barbecued or eaten raw (sashimi). The meat can be cooked (especially steamed) in the cleaned shells, which also make good serving vessels. The firm texture means it can be substituted for Squid, Octopus or Cuttlefish in some recipes.





Abalone
Scientific Name :  Haliotis rubra
Nutrition & Summary
Amount Per Serving Size of 100g

Calories 93.69 Calories from Fat 6.84
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.76g 1%
Saturated Fat 0.149g 1%
Trans. Fat 0g
Polyunsat. Fat 0.104g
Omega-3   0.094g
Cholesterol 85mg 28%
Sodium 301mg 13%
Potassium 250mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 3.14g 1%
Dietary Fibre 0g 0%
Sugars 0g
Protein 17.10g 34%

Vitamin A  0% Folate  1%
Vitamin C  2% Vitamin D  0%
Calcium  3% Iron  18%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Flavour :  Mild to Strong
Oiliness :  Low
Moisture :  Moist
Habitat :  Saltwater
Texture :  Firm
Flesh :  Both raw and cooked forms have cream-coloured meat with a black, brown or apple-green frill.
Thickness : 
Bones : 
Season :  Wild stock is harvested year round, farmed is harvested mainly in summer.
Size and Weight :  Live Abalone is 250g-350g when fully grown, with the shell measuring 13-17cm
Price :  One of Australia’s most highly valued fisheries products, live it often retails for around A$100/kg.
Family :  Haliotidae (abalones).
Other Names :  Muttonfish
Relations :  There are 18 Abalone species in Australian waters including Greenlip Abalone, Tiger Abalone (a hybrid of Blacklip and Greenlip), Brownlip Abalone and Roe’s Abalone. New Zealand Paua is also an Abalone.


Abalone Substitutes

Bailer Shell – Sold whole. Look for brightly coloured, intact, lustrous shells, firm flesh, and a pleasant fresh sea smell.

Squids, Calamari and Cuttlefish – Their firm texture means Squids, Calamari and Cuttlefish can also sometimes be substituted for Abalone – The meat of squid and cuttlefish is firm like that of abalone. It is also suited to similar cooking methods, requiring either a long slow cook (for as long as 3 hours) or a quick grill or fry on high heat (for as little as 3 minutes) to yield tender eating qualities. High quality fresh squid, calamari or cuttlefish can be thinly sliced to serve raw.

Octopus – The flesh of octopus is firm, but when cooked correctly is yielding and tender. It is meaty flesh, with many characteristics similar to that of Abalone. After poaching the tentacles, try slicing them and pan frying to give a result very similar to well-prepared Abalone.


When making substitutions in baking and cooking, you may end up with a somewhat different product. The taste, moisture content, texture and weight of a finished product can be affected by changing ingredients.



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John Doe
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