How To Keep Abalone Alive? The Key Facts

Abalone is a delicacy that many seafood lovers enjoy. However, keeping them alive and fresh can be a challenge.

Whether you’re planning to cook them right away or store them for later use, it’s important to know how to properly handle and care for these creatures.

In this article, we’ll explore some tips and tricks on how to keep abalone alive and fresh, so you can enjoy their delicious taste for longer.

So, let’s dive in!

How To Keep Abalone Alive?

Abalone are a type of sea snail that require specific conditions to stay alive and fresh. Here are some tips on how to keep them alive:

1. Keep Them Moist: Abalone need to be kept moist at all times. If you’re transporting them, place them in a container with a damp towel or some kelp to keep them hydrated.

2. Avoid Seawater: While it may seem logical to keep abalone in seawater, this can actually harm them. They need oxygenated water to survive, so avoid putting them in a bucket or ice chest full of seawater.

3. Keep Them Cool: Abalone should be kept cool, but not too cold. Ideally, they should be stored at a temperature of <5°C. If you're transporting them, use an insulated cooler with ice packs to keep them at the right temperature.

4. Freeze Them: If you’re not planning to cook the abalone right away, freeze them for 20 minutes before processing. This will make them less mobile and easier to handle.

5. Store Them Properly: Fresh abalone should be consumed on the same day as purchased, but if you need to store them for later use, keep them refrigerated in a bowl covered with wet towels. They can also be removed from the shell, sliced, and frozen for up to two months.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your abalone stay alive and fresh for as long as possible.

Understanding Abalone

Abalone are a type of mollusk that belong to the gastropod family. They have ear-shaped shells and inhabit coastal waters across the world. The abalone shell is thickened with layers of nacre (mother-of-pearl) – iridescent layers of plates of a mineral called aragonite. The abalone’s soft body is surrounded by a shell-secreting mantle, a head, and a very large muscular foot. The arrangement of tentacles, colors, and patterns on the epipodium (outer edge of the foot) is unique to each species of abalone.

Abalone need to be kept moist at all times and should not be kept in seawater. They require oxygenated water to survive and should be stored at a temperature of <5°C. If you're transporting them, use an insulated cooler with ice packs to keep them at the right temperature.

It’s important to note that not all processed abalone is equal. The quality of abalone is determined by several factors, including whether it was processed from live or frozen abalone. Live abalone delivers a better texture and taste, while frozen abalone may have a loss in flavor. Additionally, canned abalone should be purchased based on the declared “Net Drained Weight” on the can, which tells you how much actual abalone you are buying. Pouch abalone is sold by weight and may contain juice from the abalone that has an amazing flavor and should be enjoyed just as much as the meat itself.

Understanding the proper conditions for keeping abalone alive and fresh is crucial for those who want to consume or transport them. By following these tips and understanding the unique characteristics of abalone, you can ensure that you are getting the best quality product possible.

Selecting And Purchasing Abalone

When it comes to selecting and purchasing abalone, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First and foremost, it’s important to check the laws and regulations in your area regarding the harvesting and sale of wild abalone. In many parts of the world, it is illegal to harvest or sell wild abalone.

If you’re looking to purchase abalone, it’s important to buy it from a reputable supplier. Farming abalone has become common in areas where this special mollusk lives, making it a convenient way to find sustainably raised abalone. Fresh abalone can often be shipped overnight, and whole abalone is commonly sold by weight. Keep in mind that the shell is heavy, so you’ll get less than half the total weight in meat.

When selecting fresh abalone, look for thick, dark meat with no off smells. Shucked, cleaned, and frozen abalone meat is also available and can be comparable in price to whole shellfish due to the extra processing required.

It’s important to note that abalone is considered a luxury food and can be expensive. Finding a “deal” on this shellfish may mean that it is poor quality or illegally harvested. Though not widely available, canned abalone can be found. Cleaned and cooked, it is convenient but also one of the most expensive canned foods you’ll put in your pantry.

By following these guidelines and purchasing from reputable sources, you can enjoy this delicacy of the sea while also supporting sustainable practices.

Preparing Abalone For Storage

If you’re planning to store fresh abalone, it’s important to prepare them properly to ensure they stay fresh and safe for consumption. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Clean the Abalone: Before storing, make sure to clean the abalone thoroughly by removing any dirt or debris from the shell. Use a soft brush or cloth to gently scrub the shell under running water.

2. Shuck the Abalone: To remove the abalone from its shell, slide a short-bladed knife around the edge between the flesh and the shell, cutting the flesh from the shell. Pull the flesh out of the shell and discard any guts or unwanted parts.

3. Slice the Abalone: Once you have removed the abalone from its shell, slice it into thin pieces using a sharp knife. This will make it easier to store and cook later on.

4. Store in a Chilled Environment: Always keep your abalone in a chilled environment to prevent spoilage. Place them in a bowl covered with wet towels and store them in the refrigerator at a temperature of <5°C.

5. Freeze for Long-Term Storage: If you’re not planning to use your abalone within a few days, slice them into thin pieces and freeze them for up to two months. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer at a temperature of -18°C.

By following these steps, you can prepare your fresh abalone for storage and ensure that it stays fresh and safe for consumption until you’re ready to cook it.

Storing Abalone Properly

To store abalone properly, it is important to keep them in a chilled environment. Fresh abalone should be kept in a cooler on the way home from the store and then placed in the refrigerator. It is important to keep them away from direct sunlight as well.

If you plan to consume fresh abalone, it is preferable to prepare and eat it the same day as it was caught or purchased. However, if you need to store it overnight, place it in a bowl covered with wet towels and keep it in the refrigerator. Any abalone that won’t be consumed by the next day should be shucked and cleaned, then frozen.

Frozen abalone can last for quite a long time in the freezer as long as it is prepared correctly and stored in an airtight container or freezer. If you’ve bought vacuum-sealed abalone from the grocery stores, you can place them directly in the freezer. Vacuum-sealed abalone can last for up to a year in the freezer if it’s unopened.

It is important to note that commercially canned abalone may keep for up to five years. Abalone freezes extremely well due to its high moisture content. Therefore, make sure to clean the muscle properly before storing fresh abalone in the freezer to ensure that its quality is not compromised.

Preparing Abalone For Cooking

Once you have obtained fresh abalone, the next step is to prepare them for cooking. Here’s how to do it:

1. Remove the Abalone from the Shell: To remove the abalone from the shell, slide a short-bladed knife around the edge, between the flesh and the shell, cutting the flesh from the shell. Gently pull the flesh out of the shell.

2. Clean the Abalone: Slice off any guts from the flesh and discard them. Using a small clean scrubbing brush or clean pot scourer, scrub off any mucus from the skirt (black or green fringe) for a more attractive appearance.

3. Relax the Abalone: The day before serving, force a large tablespoon between the abalone and its shell, sliding the spoon against the shell to dislodge the shell muscle. Using your hands, peel off the narrow flap (a k a the mantle) near the head — the area with two black prongs — then remove the innards that surround the central, round shell muscle. If you cannot grab the mantle, slice it slightly to allow you to grip it better, trying not to pierce the innards, which are attached to the abalone at the head. Cut out the innards and head in one small chunk and discard. Put the abalone on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This step is necessary to relax the abalone and prevent it from splitting when pounded.

4. Pound and Slice: The next morning, make crisscross incisions about 1/4 inch apart and 1/4 inch deep on the bottom of each abalone’s round shell muscle. Place each abalone foot-side down on a dish towel and fold over to completely cover. Pound two to three times gently but firmly with a meat pounder, slightly flattening each abalone without disfiguring it. Repeat with remaining abalones. Slice each abalone into 1/4 inch thick steaks, making sure to trim off any meat that is not white since this part tends to be very tough.

By following these steps, you can properly prepare fresh abalone for cooking and enjoy this delicious seafood delicacy at home.

Cooking Abalone To Perfection

Cooking abalone can be intimidating, but with the right technique, you can create a delicious and tender dish. Here are some steps to cook abalone to perfection:

1. Clean the Abalone: Before cooking, clean the abalone by lightly brushing the top and sides with a soft brush. Remove most of the black grime, but no need to remove all. Steam the abalone (still attached to the shell) for 10 minutes or until a metal skewer or chopstick goes in easily. Steaming it while still attached to the shell is the trick to making it tender.

2. Remove From Shell: Once cooked, take it out of the steamer and let it cool for a few minutes so you can handle it. Keep them covered while you cool it so it doesn’t get too dry. Once cooled, remove from the shell and remove the mouth/beak and intestines.

3. Score the Abalone: Score the abalone by slicing just the top part of it in a grid pattern. This is so the sauce will get absorbed into the meat. Cover and set aside.

4. Make Sauce: In a small sauce pot, mix soy sauce, sugar, water, and a piece of fresh ginger. Bring to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes or so until sauce is reduced. To the reduced sauce, add maple syrup, rice wine, and Korean soup soy sauce and simmer again for another 3-5 minutes till it becomes thick and syrupy.

5. Cook Abalone: Skewer abalones so you can cook them evenly and easily (you don’t have to). Coat them with sauce. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium heat and cook the abalone just a couple of minutes on each side until it is nicely browned. Because it’s already steamed, you just need to put a nice sear on these. Press them down with a spatula as they cook so they get evenly browned not just the edges. Brush some more sauce as needed as you cook them.

By following these steps, you can create a delicious and tender abalone dish that will impress your guests.