Abalone Recipes Await the Return of Abalone Season
Abalone recipes and cookbooks still have their use, despite the closure of the Northern California 2018 Abalone Season by the California Fish and Game’s Commission. Luckily for us, Red Abalone, or “ab” as we call it, continue to be available for purchase. And best of all they are delivered from sustainable aquaculture operations located in coastal California from Goletta to Monterey. They are available for purchase live, or freshly packaged to be shipped directly to your home.
Abalone Song by George Sterling (1913)
Oh! some folks boast of quail on toast
Because they think it’s tony;
But I’m content to owe my rent
And live on abalone.
California Abalone Farms
The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program names California farmed abalone a “best choice” because it’s a healthy, sustainable pick. There are four abalone farms in California, none of them located in the North Bay Area.
While I have not yet tested their abalone, I’m assured they can be delivered directly to your home as fresh as the day they were hauled out of the tank. In fact, you could order them to arrive at the doorstep of Abalone Bay for preparation there while on vacation!
- American Abalone Farms grows California Red Abalone right on the beach at 245 Davenport Landing Road, Davenport. Farm stand open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Also sold at Lucky Seafood in Oakland, Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco and H Mart in San Jose; through seafood delivery companies Sea Forager Seafood, Real Good Fish and FreshCatch; and at many Bay Area restaurants.
- Monterey Abalone Company cultivates their abalone under a commercial wharf in Monterey
- The Cultured Abalone Farm is located in the Santa Barbara channel of Goletta, California since1989
- The Abalone Farm’s Ocean Rose brand Abalone Steaks are available through their distributors. Below is a video tour of The Abalone Farm to give an idea of how they are grown.
The Taste for Abalone in California History
The sweet delicate meat of the abalone (foot muscle) has been a favorite of California coastal dwellers for ages. Native Americans on the Channel Islands harvested abalone for at least 12,000 years. In fact, archaeological sites around the world, ranging from 100,000-year-old deposits at Blombos Cave in South Africa to historic Chinese indicate the marine gastropod mollusk was cherished for both food and decorative purposes, givien the beauty of the shells’ mother of pearl.
Chinese immigrants came to the San Francisco coast for the “Abalone Rush” in the early 1850s, to scavenged the shellfish. In fact, by 1879 over 4 million pounds of red abalone had been harvested by the Chinese. The big snails were dried and exported to China. Later Japanese fishermen joined in, using more sophisticated and efficient methods to reach farther into the abalone population with boats and diving suits to harvest them from the bottom.
The Making of Monterey’s Abalone King
By the turn of the 20th century, restaurants in Monterey were testing new ways of preparing abalone. The challenge they faced was how to make the rubbery gastropod into an epicurean delight. “Pop” Ernest Doelter, crowned the “Abalone King” in 1908, discovered the trick. Drawing from his Germanic culinary heritage, he applied the same technique to abalone steaks as he did to cooking wiener schnitzel.
Abalone King’s Secret Recipe Unveiled
Pop Ernest first cut the foot into steaks, then pounded them to break up the shoe-leather like connective tissues. Next, he seasoned the tenderized pieces with salt and pepper, adding his secret ingredient, “abalone nectar” (the juice that came out of the shell). He quickly dipped it into an egg wash, rolled it in cracker crumbs and cooked it quickly in olive oil or butter. Soon he became the toast of the town, with tourists and celebrities alike flocking to Pop’s table to enjoy his famous recipe. Of course, each plate of the luscious mollusk was washed down with a cold German beer.
Pan Pacific International Exhibition
Eventually, he shipped by train steaks on ice to hotels and restaurants throughout the state, including San Francisco’s famous Hof Brau Restaurant. Later with the Pan Pacific International Exhibition, canned abalone was a featured as a free souvenir at the Point Lobos Monterey Abalone Company booth. For visitors wanting more, they sent them on down the road to sample Pop’s recipe dished up at the Hof Brau.
You can find more of Pop Ernst’s famous Abalone Recipes in The Abalone King of Monterey: “Pop” Ernest Doelter, Pioneering Japanese Fishermen & the Culinary Classic that Saved an Industry by Tim Thomas (2014).
My Favorite Book of Abalone Recipes
Just about every cook or chef has their favorite book of recipes. In this case, my personal favorite book of abalone recipes is Abalone From Sea to Saucepan: A Handy Guide and How to Spot, Catch & Cook ‘Em by
In fact I love this book so much, I bought a copy to share with you while you stay at Abalone Bay! You’ll love the cartoon drawings giving you not only great recipes of California’s Golden Gastropod, or Sirloin of the Sea, but also insight on the abalone in general.
Cleaning the Abalone:
Before you can prepare the abalone recipes you must first shuck it from the shell.
This video demonstrates how to clean an ab harvested along harvested by a recreational diver along our Northern California coast.
Cultured Abalone Farm shows how to prepare one of their smaller farmed abalones.
Abalone Recipes from Abalone Farms’ Websites
Below find recipes from on each of the abalone farm websites. Each site listed has many recipes to choose from.
American Abalone Farms-
American Abalone Farms provides you with one video on how to shuck a small abalone, three videos of recipes ( Fried Abalone Steaks, Abalone Porridge, Baja Abalone Stir Fry.) and one recipe for preparing Dungeness Crab.
Though Cultured Abalone shared how to prepare abalone, they did not have any recipes ready yet. In the meantime “Save this link”.
Monterey Abalone Company-
Monterey Abalone Company provides 17 of their more popular suggestions for how to prepare abalone. The recipes are for the preparation of fresh, frozen or parboiled abalone. Click on the recipe for details.
Abalone Farms’ list of recipes can be found here. They also recommend the Recipe DVD ‘Abalone – Gourmet Essence of the Sea’. All you need to know about purchasing and preparing abalone with seven recipe videos and suggested wine pairings. After touring the Abalone Farm, you’ll travel to The Black Cat Bistro in Cambria where Brad Buckley, Manager at the Abalone Farm, and Deborah Scarborough, owner of the Black Cat, will walk you through the detailed preparation of sumptuous abalone recipes anyone can prepare. Includes bonus features and iPod versions for use in the kitchen. Order the DVD today for $24.99 from Amazon by clicking here.
“BBQ With Bobby Flay” showcases Abalone Farms’ abalone prepared as Grilled Abalone Steak and Fruit Skewers in video and written recipe.
A Fascinating Recipe for Abalone
The last recipe for abalone I’ll share with you comes from the PPGallery Facebook Page.
This recipe’s title is: abalone teppanyaki w/ black truffle 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. What makes this recipe unique is its preparation while still in the shell. You can view it here:
Share Your Favorite Abalone Recipes
Are you a diver with field experience in plucking, popping, and preparing for a feast of the gods? Do you have an old time favorite recipe for abalone? Perhaps you have a recipe book chock full of awesome recipes you’d like to share? Let us know about them in the comments below.
Meanwhile, keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully California Fish and Wildlife will reopen the Northern California waters once again to recreational harvesting of abalone.
In the meantime Bon Appetite!