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Abalone, sea cucumber etc.

I would like to try out several of the more unusual sea creatures, such as abalone and sea cucumber, given that I like sea urchin a lot.

How do I tell if a sea cucumber is "good"? Which dishes at which restaurants should I try?

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  1. I would call in advance to New Golden Gate in Chinatown, Boston to see if they have those unusual sea creatures in stock. Be forewarned, it will be pricey dishes. Gluck!

    1. I've never had abalone, but be forewarned, sea cucumber has almost no flavor and is really just about the chewy texture.

      I don't really think of sea cucumber as anything really worth going out of one's way to try. That say, I LOVE urchin.

      1 Reply
      1. re: StriperGuy

        you are right - sea cucumber is all about texture. it is something that non-chinese diners have been perplexed by, given its lack of flavor. a good rendition in a chinese restaurant is one that is braised in a very rich brown stock or broth.
        there is more flavor in abalone though, if it is not prepared well, it will be rubbery.

      2. abalone is a wonderful thing but it is highly regulated (quotas on harvesting) and requires alot of work/expense to soften and make edible. i know nothing of its availability in Chinatown, but in non Asian owned restaurants,in Boston, you are most likely to find it in very high end places. Maybe Clio, OYa. Michael Serpa, the Neptune Oyster chef, was telling me recently about the prohibitive wholesale cost of it. ( He did tell me, however, that he hopes to add sturgeon to the N.O. menu this winter. That's a fish you almost never see here; very unusual earthy flavor.) Both abalone and sturgeon are farmed on the west coast, but iirc, there is an east coast abalone as well.

        10 Replies
        1. re: opinionatedchef

          there are over 100 species of this, but none in this region. most abalone we'd get would come from california. the harvest season for wild abalone finished there on 12/1, and in sonoma was ended 2 months early because of red tide.

          tasmania, australia and nz are open-seaon now, but not much of that gets here. most goes to asia.

          unless you know the abalone is fresh and not frozen, it's totally not worth bothering. call clio or o ya.

          i had sturgeon at neptune under a previous chef and it was incredibly good.

          none of these creatures are anything like sea urchin. i could eat urchin everyday of my life and never tire of it. i've had abalone a few times and, meh. wouldn't turn it down, but it would not be my first pick. go for live local scallop instead. sea cukes? blech. don't bother. have had jellyfish a few ways and really liked that too.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I've seen live abalone once or twice in tanks in Chinatown.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              Sakanaya fish market in Allston also had fresh abalone several times this fall.

              http://twitpic.com/7mqik0

              http://sakanayaboston.com/

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Sakanaya has a post today saying that they have live abalone in.

                  http://bit.ly/sHjB0j

                2. re: steinpilz

                  They had it at Happy Family Mkt in Ctown that I wrote up recently.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                just be careful with live scallop on the shell-- if it still has the dark-looking sac attached, do'nt eat the sac. I got appendicitis years ago which I attribute to eating the entire live scallop off the shell, instead of just the white meaty part.

                1. re: barleywino

                  do you mean the roe? that's considered quite a delicacy. all of the scallop is edible, although the adductor muscle is not very palatable.

                  quite possible your scallop was contaminated with some kind of pathogen though.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    right, this wasn't the roe (orange), but perhaps the stomach? had some dark grit in there

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      The Adductor Muscles- as dave barry used to say, sounds like a good name for a rock band. :-}

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