Abalone? Abalone!

I, for one, thought it was illegal to sell abalone. Did you? Well apparently, we were both wrong. A little while ago, my mom and I found some sushi grade abalone at the Japanese market. It’s pretty expensive, real small and a pain and a half to clean – but what a novel treat! And mighty delicious, I might add…

But, back to the point. It seems that the focus of the regulations is to specify what kind you can catch and when, how many and how and that each and every one caught is reported and tagged. Take a peek here, if you care to learn the simple rules of abalone hunting. Apparently lots of them are just north of San Francisco. That’s just north of me! Perhaps I’ll drag the other half out for some abalone fishing sometime soon in order to recreate this most delicious abalone recipe.

Before you can cook it, though, you gotta clean it. And it goes a little something like this:

Cut it out of the shell. An oyster shucker works well, otherwise a small paring knife is a-ok.

Use a small paring knife to gently cut away all the dirty and the black membranes from the beefy meaty abalone. It seems more daunting than it is; once you start cutting, you’ll be able to feel where to cut. This is a decent video on how to do it. There are a couple on youtube that will help out.

In the end, it will look like this. Wrap it in plastic on either side and pound it just a bit to tenderize it, then (for this recipe) cut it into thick strips. (Other ways to cook it besides this recipe – slice in half long-ways pan fry it in a cast iron skillet with lots of butter, salt, pepper and some cayenne and lemon juice – like calamari. Or, breaded and deep fried, also like calamari.)

The cream sauce for this is similar to something for linguini and clams, but it’s pretty versatile – use it on pasta, as a base for chowder etc. And super delish. Apologies for not offering the exact measurements for the ingredients, but mess around with it, and you’ll figure it out ok.


Few Tablespoons Butter
1-2 Shallots, finely minced
2-3 cloves Garlic, finely minced
large palmful of Fennel fronds, finely minced
1/3C. or so White Wine – Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio will be just fine
1C. or so Heavy cream
1teaspoon, give or take Hot Sauce – preferably Tabasco
juice from quarter to half a Lemon
Black pepper to taste

How to do it:

      1. Heat a large, deep frying pan and melt the butter.

2. Once melted, add shallots, garlic and pinch of salt and let it just start to brown and get aromatic.

3. Add white wine and fennel fronds, moving often to keep the garlic and shallots from burning. Let it just start to simmer up in order to reduce the wine.

4. Add cream, and stir often and reduce. Salt to taste.

5. As it reduces reduces, add hot sauce, lemon and fresh ground black pepper and keep stirring.

6. In the simmering sauce, add the strips of abalone and cook carefully and briefly on both sides until heated through, about 7 minutes total.

7. Serve the abalone and sauce over sliced, toasted baguette.