At the wet market in Jimei there were these funny looking things with a pretty shell on one side and nothing on the other. When I learned they were abalone I had to try them. Prized and considered the food of important people these abalone are tiny compared to the obese variety harvested off the pacific northwest of America. Marinated for a few hours and then simply sauteed they are a luscious delicacy. However, my favorite way to enjoy them is in this mushroom sauce.
2 lb fresh abalone taken out of their shells
4 cups/handfuls straw mushrooms
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 tbsp Garlic Ginger Salt
1 tbsp sugar
6 cups chicken stock
1 tbsp Sweet Potato or Arrowroot flour
For frozen abalones be sure to completely thaw them in the refrigerator. If you’re using dried abalones then soak them in clean water for twenty-four hours at room temperature. Replace with fresh water every six hours or so. Canned abalones they can be used directly out of the can.
Pour cooking wine, light soy sauce, sugar, Garlic Ginger Salt and chicken stock into the wok. Heat until the liquid starts to boil. Boil for 5 minutes then add the abalone and half the scallions and mushrooms. Turn down the heat and simmer covered over very low heat. Skim off any scum that forms on top of the liquid. Cook for about 20 minutes. Continually sure to check the liquid level making sure the abalones do not get burnt.
When the liquid has reduced by half, add the remaining mushrooms and scallions. Cook for another 10 minutes until the vegetables have softened to your liking. Turn the heat off and remove and discard all the sold ingredients except the abalones. Remove the abalones and vegetables, set aside. Thicken the sauce with a slurry of tapioca flour and 1/3 cup water. Return the abalones and vegetables to the wok and simmer for another minute or so. Serve the abalones hot with the sauce over them and a side of rice.
More inspired fish dishes from foreign shores:
Photo Credit: Julie Cecchini