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August 1998 Issue
Seafood Surprise
by Philip R. Gantt
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Abalone Supreme

Abalone is becoming a rare delicacy these days with the populations of animals dwindling severely. However, should you happen to be a diver or live near the Pacific Ocean, you may have the opportunity to harvest some of these sea snails for yourself. Sometimes, seafood markets can special order abalone for you, however if you purchase prepared abalone steaks, be prepared to pay nearly $100 per pound for them!

Abalone is a very rich meat, and when prepared properly is very tender and succulent. Be warned not to cook abalone too much, or over too high a temperature. If you do not heed this warning, the result will be similar to the soles of a tennis shoe. This easy to make mistake has resulted in many disappointed seafood aficionados, and many a good wasted dollar.

Should you happen upon abalone which is still in the shell, here are the instructions for preparing them for cooking: Remove the meat from the shell with your hands by prying the meat away from the shell. With enough force, the meat will simply break loose from the shell. Remove the gonads with a knife and trim the tough edges away with a knife. Reserve the trimmings for chowder. Lay the foot on a cutting board and slice the foot of the abalone horizontally into 3/8" thick steaks using a sharp knife. Now take a large mallet and hit each of the steaks once on each side very sharply. Do not pound it to mush in an attempt to tenderize it and do not use a tenderizing mallet that will cut into the meat. The idea here is to "shock" the fibers of the meat into relaxing. One sharp smack with a mallet will do the task quite adequately. Now the steaks are ready for cooking.

Some prefer to bread the steaks before cooking. I prefer not to do this. However, if you prefer them breaded, I suggest Ritz Cracker crumbs, saltines, or very lightly seasoned bread crumbs. Abalone has a very delicate flavor that should not be overpowered with too many seasonings. Abalone prepared in this manner is guaranteed to be so tender that you can easily cut it with a fork.

  • 2 abalone steaks
  • butter
Melt the butter over low temperature in a skillet. Do not heat the butter to the point of browning. Place the steaks into the butter and simmer for 20 to 30 seconds each side. Remove and serve promptly.
  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 2 minutes
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