Any of a variety of single–shelled marine molluscs, abalone is highly prized as a seafood delicacy in Japan and China. It has cream–coloured flesh and a mild meaty flavour, similar to a clam. In many countries, abalone has been over–harvested and, as it needs to be picked off the rocks by hand, it can be very expensive: farming, currently in progress in many countries, may help bring the price down. In New Zealand abalone are called paua and are most commonly deep–fried as fritters and served with chips. In the Channel Islands a smaller European variety of abalone are called ormer; these are often made into a stew. Abalone clings to the rock with a large muscular foot, and it is this foot that is the edible part. Contrary to popular belief, fresh abalone need not be beaten to tenderize the flesh, though the hard base of the foot does need to be trimmed away. The flesh can be cooked in many ways: sliced, then dipped in egg and breadcrumbs and fried (about 30–40 seconds each side); steamed in the shell; used in stir–fries or Chinese braised dishes; or served raw as sashimi. It is particularly good in garlic butter. Sprinkled with the juice of half a lemon and extra virgin olive oil it will keep for many days. Dried abalone is also much prized in Asia and can be bought at Asian shops. Tinned abalone is the easiest to use as it is cleaned and already very tender. Some of it is sold already cut into steaks. Abalone can be bought canned, dried, salted or frozen, although fresh pictured) is best.
Also known as — awabi, ormer, paua