Enjoying a Delicacy: A Chef’s Three Creative Abalone Recipes
In Sonoma County, abalone diving and the meals following a good harvest day are legendary. If I serve abalone at Jordan Winery, it will be followed by tales of abalone shells the size of Spartan shields, pulled from an obscure or conveniently forgotten cove. If the haul is particularly plentiful, that’s where my arsenal of abalone recipes comes in handy.
But, unfortunately, a suddenly decimated starfish population has resulted in an unchecked purple sea urchin population, destroying the kelp forest that the abalone depend on. Until that issue can be resolved, the foraging of abalone has been halted indefinitely. Fortunately, sustainably-farmed abalone are now available. Raised in the protected waters of the Monterey Bay, live abalone and steaks can now be shipped directly to you. Although farm-raised seafood hasn’t received the most positive media exposure, the abalone farms in Monterey, like American Abalone, are sustainable aquacultures housed in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Farmers feed the mollusks a variety of fresh, local seaweeds and they deliver a continuous supply of clean seawater. The red abalone, a particularly large and tasty variety, is fantastic in many abalone recipes, and is what you will mostly find for sale in northern California.
Three Creative Abalone Recipes
A dish hailing from Peru, the flavorful tiradito is served raw, similar to ceviche. I serve this as a “wow” appetizer at elegant dinner parties. Asian flavors of cilantro, serrano chile, lime juice and fermented black beans keep it fresh and interesting.
Adopted from David Kinch, this abalone recipe allows the enjoyment of perfectly tender mollusk meat, using both poaching and searing techniques. Enoki mushrooms impart a rich earthiness and interesting texture, while Jordan’s dukkah, our version of the versatile Egyptian condiment, offers up warm flavors of cinnamon, chili pepper and coriander.
A unique take on ahi tuna poke, I created this abalone recipe around Jordan Chardonnay’s ability to pair with a variety of seafood. It combines sweet, tender abalone with bright apples, salty sea beans and briny olives. Although it’s less rich than traditional ahi poke, the brighter flavors allow the dish to pair with a variety of crisp, white wines.