Real World Abalone Cooking - For The Brave

Careful, this can be dangerous. Using a hot glove may be recommended and having a pan lid or baking soda to put out a small flash fire may be a good idea.

It is said that abalone diving is an extreme sport because you must overcome some of your most basic survival instincts and enter a foreign environment where danger lays in wait. Abalone cooking can be the same way. The key to cooking abalone is to cook it very hot or else no matter how much you have pounded it, it is going to turn out very tough. So get a good pan and start it heating on mid-heat. Have your oil/butter/spice mix heated and ready to spoon in the pan or on the abalone. When it is heated, get everything ready to go, turn up the heat and when it's as hot as you are comfortable cooking, put everything in and cook quickly. Idealy it should take no more than 30 seconds or so on a side.

Get Ready To Flame On

Hot, but I've seen hotter
That all sounds good, but it isn't always the reality. Sometimes you don't have nice pans and a modern range. When I was at the Bodega Marine Lab, all we had to cook on was a two burner coffee maker. Frequently I have had to cook on electric stoves that probably never had much temperature control when they were new and should have been retired long ago. It is almost impossible to get the controlled high heat you need. There is a way to get it hot enough though. Use uncontrolled heat. Almost any range, no matter how old and tired, will get as hot as you could desire if you turn it up all the way. Chefs learn early to avoid turning up electric ranges all the way. The heat element turns a very bright sunset orange and they are far too hot for cooking anything but eyebrows and water. If it's all you have though, crank it up to angry heat... and be careful. This is dangerous. You can control the heat some by taking the pan on and off the heat or turning off the heat occasionally, but don't depend on it. There is a real flash fire danger, so be prepared and never hesitate.

Prepare at least two pans full of abalone ahead of time for cooking. Put the spice mix you plan to use mostly on the abalone. Be ready to do things extremely fast. Figure that after two pans full (at most) are cooked you will have to wipe out the pan to remove burned oil, bread crumbs, nuts, abalone and anything else that has been in the pan. Spoon some in the oil and spice pan. If it burns instantly, clean it out and start with a bit cooler pan. If it doesn't burn right away, throw the abalone in after it and slide it around the pan to get the spice mix before it burns. Spoon some mix on the back of the abalone and turn it when ready. Sliding the abalone around in the pan will help distribute the oils and make it come out a nice golden brown. It will come out tender and delicious.

Turn off the heat whenever there is nothing cooking on it or about to be cooked on it. This is not the safest, easiest or brightest way to cook, but sometimes it is the only way to get the heat needed to cook abalone. Do not try this if you aren't very skilled at managing minor hazards.

Good Stuff

Enjoy, seahunt
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