Abalone is an edible sea snail which is savored and favored in various food preparations across the world. This is normally a mollusk which belongs to the class of gastropoda. Abalone is variously known as sea ears, ear –shells, mutton shells, mutton fish, ormer, venus ‘s –ears. Other than cooking the shells of the sea ears are used for decorative purposes and it also serves as a source of pearl. The ear shells are widely used in food preparation in those areas where they are found in abundance. Some of the species of sea ears are facing extinction because they are overly exploited. In China the sea ear is part of all auspicious occasions. Various abalone recipes are considered during the wedding banquet. The sea ear is not frequently used in food preparation because it is supposed to be a luxury food.
The commercially grown abalone varieties are slowly making their appearance felt, still the craze for traditional varieties continue to be on rise. Japanese eat abalone raw or live by including it in sushi or it is boiled, chopped and cooked in soy sauce. Japanese living around Honoshu use abalone entrails in preparation of Tottsuru- a local favorite. Californians use it in Pizza by frying it with caramelized mango or serve it as steak with flour and cracker meal powder dusted over it.
Word abalone refers to those shells which are found in ear shell or awabi. Some ear shells are occasionally prized thousands of dollars depending on their size and shape.
It is commonly believed that Native Americans were the first ones to hunt abalone for food. They developed several abalone recipes by including different species of fish. Various historical excavations established that abalone was widely cultivated on Catalina Island by Californians during 4000 B.C. This mollusk was an integral part of their food culture and they over exploited it for their personal gains too. This exploitation endangered certain species of abalones as a result the Californians were forced to look for other alternatives like mussles. Even today the abalone fishing is considered to be one of the favorite pastimes of Californians, who have developed several delectable abalone recipes by including farm bred and traditional abalones. The El-Ninos of 80’s and 90’s have almost led to endangerment of several snail species.
Asians started harvesting these shells very lately in 1800s and 1900s. They developed seashells in intertidal areas throughout 1800’s and 1900’s. The supply of intertidal abalones depleted in later years of 1900s.
Popular Abalone Recipes
- Breaded Abalone Delight: This is one of the popular abalone recipes which involve cooking with abalone, egg and breadcrumbs. Breaded delight is normally served as an appetizer.
- Steamed Abalone: This is simple but tasty delight which is mostly prepared and enjoyed throughout the world with same fervor and interest. The dish is served after garnishing with cilantro.
- Pan Fried Abalone: As the name suggests this is one of the popularly favored abalone recipes because it is very simpler in application. The ear shell is coated with flour, salt, ground black pepper, and butter, and deep fried in canola oil. This is mostly served as a feisty appetizer.
- Abalone Asian style Omelette: This omelette is prepared by dipping abalone fillets in egg, palm sugar, fish sauce, peanut, sesame oil, basil, coriander, bok choy and bean shoots mixture. Additionally some of the sauces are added to the batter to increase the flavor of dish.
- Abalone Stuffed with Crabmeat: This dish is squared up by stuffing the spice cooked crabmeat within the abalone fillets. This appetizer is normally teamed with the remaining sauce that was used up in the preparation of crabmeat.
Health and Nutrition Information about Abalones
It was established during various studies that abalones may bring food allergies in some people. The viscera of some species are may react in unexpected way by inducing a feeling of prickling and itching all over the body. These symptoms may not aggravate until exposed to sunlight. If eaten in sunlight these symptoms may easily occur. People have reported of skin lesions at body parts exposed to sunlight immediately after eating these ear shells. It is believed that allergens may come from seaweed on which abalones parch. Other than that ear shells are known as rich source of proteins.
Nowadays, abalone pearl jewellery is getting popular in Australia and New Zealand. The shells are also used in decorating furniture and musical instruments. The pearls obtained from ear shells are not naturally round unlike Tahitian cultured pearls and also very minimal processing is involved in converting them into attractive jewellery. The fishing for abalone is protected by laws in Oregon and Washington.