A mollusc native to the waters of the Pacific Ocean, the shell of the abalone yields mother-of-pearl which is used in button-making and inlaying. Abalone meat has long been a popular food in China, Japan and in California.
Fresh abalone meat has a subtle flavour, but it is tough and must be tenderized. Most of the fresh abalone meat sold in California, for example, is ready to use. If, however, the meat has not been filleted and tenderized it can easily be softened by pounding thin slices with a wooden mallet. Today, tenderized canned abalone is exported all over the world and is readily available in speciality and Chinese provision shops.
Overcooking abalone will make it tough and disappointing. Fresh abalone, sliced thin, can be sauteed in melted butter for 45 to 55 seconds, turning once. Fresh abalone can also be cut into thin strips, dipped into batter and quickly deep fried.
This is the meat of small abalone which has been tenderized and canned. The shells of the mollusc, found in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, yield high-grade mother-of-pearl.