Sunday, April 11, 2010

Singing the Praises of California Abalone

The delicious taste of fresh seafood makes me want to sing—and apparently I am not the only one!

Fresh California seafood has inspired not only today’s chefs and home cooks, but it also motivated California poets and writers to pen lyrics. Over a century ago, one of my favorite California mollusks, the abalone, starred in a song composed by George Sterling and his friends (among them author Jack London), and published by none other than Carl Sandburg in The American Songbook.

Imagine this group of artistic buddies back in 1907, harvesting the abalone from the bay and then repairing to George’s Carmel home. There they would invent verses to “The Abalone Song” as they prepared a delicious feast of fresh abalone, pounding it to tenderize the sturdy flesh.

Oh, some drink rain, and some champagne,
And whisky by the pony,
But I will try a dash of rye,
And a hunk of abalone.

Some pretty decent seafood cooks have told me that abalone sounds too exotic or difficult. But if you’ve cooked shrimp or crab or clams, you’ll love adding abalone to your menu. Unlike George and Jack, you don’t need to go diving or even wading—just order in online from a reputable seafood market that has its own fleet. When you order exotic seafood such as abalone, you want to be sure you are getting the freshest possible seafood delivery -- and that means getting it direct from the boat that day. You're worth it!

Then follow these basic steps when your fresh cleaned whole abalone arrives:

1. Slice it into ¼” thin slices with a sharp chef’s knife the way you might a block of mozzarella.

2. Now trim the tough outer skin from each slice. (Some make this step one, but I think you lose more of the meat that way.)

3. The famous pounding. Some prefer to do it under fresh water, others between layers of plastic. Pound the slices until tender with a meat mallet and without tearing the flesh. Check before and after—you’ll feel the difference. It should be noticeably soft.

4. You now have tenderized “abalone steaks,” ready for your recipe!

For your first foray into the pleasures of abalone cooking, a good place to start with is pan-fried abalone steaks -- easy to get through seafood delivery.

It’s not likely there’ll be leftovers, so this final verse of the Abalone Song only applies to anyone who dares leave the plate of aromatic, succulent abalone on the counter while getting the wine out:

Oh some like ham and some like jam,

And some like macaroni

But our tom cat he lives on fat

And juicy abalone!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing this . It's so good for knowledge. Fresh seafood contains many nutrients like DHA, Omega-3, protein etc. DHA is good for proper brain growth and nutrient Omega-3 can help to protect the eyesight.