What’s eaten is the thick muscle that Abalone have called an “adductor” muscle, which the Abalone use to grip onto the rocks with. The muscle will be about an inch (2.5 cm) thick and the size of a hand. The colour of this meat ranges from pale pink to grey.
Abalone has its fans, and its detractors. Those who love it, say it tastes somewhat like scallops. Those who don’t, say it has as much taste and appeal as shoe leather, and is not worth anything near the exorbitant prices that it commands.
Though Abalone can be eaten raw, in Western kitchens it is usually cooked because it is quite rubbery when raw. For use in sushi, raw Abalone is sliced across the grain to help tenderize it and improve the texture. When cooking Abalone, the catch is that it can indeed become very tough if not cooked properly.
Abalone can be bought fresh, canned, or dried and salted. When buying live ones, poke the exposed muscle to see if it moves.
The inner shell of Abalone is used for mother-of-pearl.
Cook live Abalone the same day you bought it, or at the most 1 day later.
To prepare Abalone, cut the meat free of the shell, and trim off and discard the head and gills and the hard “lip”, which is its digestive tract.
Once the meat is free, it is then usually tenderized by pounding it with a wooden mallet. At that point, you can then cook the meat all as one piece — large pieces are called “abalone steaks” — or slice it up. Slicing across the grain will help tenderize it.
When cooking it, cook it hot and fast — overcooking makes it very tough. When pan-frying, about 30 seconds a side will do it — about 1 1/2 minutes per side if the Abalone has been breaded. In a stir fry, Abalone pieces will need just about 1 minute.
Don’t cook canned Abalone — just heat it. There is no need to pound canned Abalone — it has already been tenderized. You can freeze the juice from the can and use it later in soups. If you have leftover Abalone from a can you opened, store the leftover abalone for up to a week covered with water, changing the water daily.
The part of scallops that we eat is also their “adductor” muscle.