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Mar 16, 2008 01:25 PM

Can You Eat All Of A Whole Abalone?

I got two live abalones from a shellfish farm and have found some recipes for steaming them whole. The recipes dont state whether you eat the whole animal or discard the guts. Most recipes that call for abalone steak tell you to take out the guts but im wondering if i steam the whole thing and then pop it from the shell, can i eat it all?

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  1. Only the muscle is usually eaten and it must be prepared and then cooked as you want.

      1. Whole live abalones... Okay. Assuming they're still in that condition, the first thing you do is seperate the abalone from the shell by sliding (with force, if need be) a thin flat metal surface such as a solid (no holes) spatula. If you were a diver and had an abalone knife, that would work really well.

        Once the ab is away from the shell, then peel away any "innard like matter" encircling the large central muscle and discard. Next, you need a vegetable brush. There is almost always a black layer around the sides of the foot that is best scrubbed away with a vegetable brush under running water. The abalone is now cleaned and ready to cook...

        My best advice is not to steam it!!! I prefer mine lightly breaded and fried as in any good vienerschnitzel recipe. But in order to do that, yuo have to do two things first, once you've cleaned the critter. Cut it into steaks, then pound the bejeezus out of them.

        To slice into steaks, set the abalone flat on a counter, widest part of the foot down Press down on it with the flat of your hand and with a long very sharp knife, slice across the entire abalone a little less than a half an inch from your counter surface. If the abalone is very small, then just cut it in half, or repeat the half inch slices until the entire abalone is cut into steaks. I doubt you've been able to purchase any really large abalone, so you may only get two or three steaks per ab.

        Put the steaks between plastic sheets and pound with a tenderizing mallet. Pound on both sides, and pound well. This tenderizing process is critical.

        Next dip them in some sort of liquid followed by a starchy coating. You can use an egg wash, canned milk, or buttermilk, or even nothing at all. For a coating, you can use seasoned flour (salt and pepper), regular bread crumbs or Panko bread crumbs. For a vienerschnitzel type coating, use the egg (1 egg and a Tbsp of water beaten well) and the Panko crumbs if you can find them, otherwise use well dried white breat crumbs. Fry in butter and serve with a sprinkling of minced parsley and a thin slice of lemon on top. You can also skip the dipping in anything and just lightly dust them with seasoned flour and fry them.

        If you are going to steam them whole, it's very difficult to tenderize them by pounding so that leaves very long steaming time as the only alternative. I've never had steamed abalone, though I have probably cooked way more than a hundred abalone in my lifetime. There are some Asian recipes that simmer abalone, often with sea cucumber, for a very long time. They are very tough critters when steamed or boiled for anything short of two or three hours. I can't count the ways I've cooked abs, but I think the pounding and frying method brings out the sweet flavor of the meat more than any other method.

        Good luck, and can I have a bite? '-)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Caroline1

          I guess you didn't like the pictures in the link I provided.

          1. re: wolfe

            There is a lot of wasted meat in that method, plus it is MUCH easier to remove the "ruffled" flesh around the edges with sicissors than a knife, but it's not really neccesary to remove it at all. And then to quarter the critter for steaks? No. Don't like the methodology but it's a nice ab knife.

            He (whoever he is) makes a lot of hard work out of cleaning abalone shells. I just cut straight to the muriatic acid. Rinse to see how things are coming along. You can always apply more acid. And NO! Don't spray or paint with shellac, varnish, verathane, or anything else. It will eventually peel and look terrible. But a very light rubbing with mineral or cooking oil can shine things up. And if you want to make buttons or jewelry from abalone shell, wear a really good dust mask, work outside and use a Dremel Tool. Easy! I have some half finished jewelry around here someplace. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way I lost my very rare and gorgeous abalone pearl. Don't even want to think about how much it was worth.

        2. Don't toss the liver! This is prized at most sushi bars (awabi kimo). Steam it and eat with a little ponzu, out of this world!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Pablo

            Pablo's spot on here. The liver's the best part!

            Season it as you wish, a soy, sake, and ginger mixture should work fine, and broil it on the shell. (Due to the moisture it partially steams, but also broils on top to carmelize the sugars.) It's absolutely wonderful and results in a really briny, heady aroma!

            Note, though, that it has to be very fresh! If in doubt, consult with a traditionally-trained sushi chef.

            And don't be dismayed by the color of the liver. It tends to take on the color of the algae that it's been eating, and contributes to much of its flavor.