Market Name: Abalone
Scientific Name: Haliotis spp.
Common Name: Red abalone, black abalone, white abalone, pink abalone, green abalone, Australian abalone, giant abalone, blackfoot abalone, pinto abalone, blacklip abalone, greenlip abalone, Japanese abalone
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Medium/Firm

Wild abalone populations on the U.S. West Coast and worldwide have been decimated by predation, disease, loss of habitat and overfishing. However, farmed supply is alleviating the harvest shortfall; worldwide, more than 15 abalone species are commercially cultivated. The most popular and common abalone in the North American market is the red abalone (Haliotis rufescens), available as farmed product from California and both wild-harvested and farmed from Mexico. The only viable population of black abalone (H. cracherodii) in North America surrounds San Miguel Island off the southern California coast. The average size of wild-caught abalone is 12 inches, with meat weight averaging 1 pound per animal. Farmed abalone average about 4 inches in length. Grown either in onshore saltwater pens or in suspended cages, farmed abalone take three to four years to reach marketable size of four to six live animals per pound.

Product Profile:
Abs consist mainly of a large, strong foot, which is the edible meat. When cooked, abalone is milky-moist, tender and mild — somewhat like lobster, though sweeter to the sophisticated palate. Taste-wise, abalone is also a distant cousin to calamari. Cultured abalone may be slightly more tender than wild-run. Frozen meat should be firm, like an ivory-colored hockey puck. When thawed, it should have nearly no aroma. Cooked abalone appears in various shades of white. Live abalone should be active and stuck hard to the tank. The foot muscle should respond to touch. If it doesn’t, or if it dents, the animal is near death.

You Should Know:
Beware of circular, steaked cuttlefish mantles being offered as abalone. These are generally put through a meat tenderizer; look for needle marks as a clue to product substitution.

Cooking Tips:
Shuck live abalone with a wide spatula placed between meat and shell. Trim viscera and fringe. For steaks, make 3/8-inch slices parallel to the bottom of the foot and lightly pound with a wooden mallet until tender. Do not overpound — you will shred the meat. Heat oil to near flash point in a shallow pan, then sauté less than 1 minute per side. Overcooking turns this delicacy to shoe leather. Save trimmings for chowder stock.

Cooking Methods: Saute',Steam

Substitutions: Squid, Cuttlefish

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Live (in-shell), Shucked meat, Steaks
Frozen: Shucked meats, Steaks
Value-Added: Canned, Dried

Global Supply: