Abalone, black bean, beach herbs

Abalone, black bean, beach herbs

By
From
Finding Fire
Serves
4

A member of the gastropod family, abalone has a single shell and a large adductor muscle that clings tenaciously to its rocky habitat, where it is well camouflaged. Limited harvesting, which is difficult and dangerous, means that it commands a high price. It is known as pāua in New Zealand, where it forms a strong part of the Māori culture and traditional diet, and is revered as a treasure. My first experience of abalone was being invited to a local hangi in Kaikoura, New Zealand, where most of the food was cooked slowly in a giant earth oven. I remember it was rich, smoky and delicious – food for the soul as much as for the stomach. I had never come across it in Europe and was keen to work with it in Australia. Being a muscle, it has a firm texture and is often sliced thinly and eaten raw, or cooked slowly until it softens. Abalone must be tenderised before grilling to make it palatable. The Māori understand this, often beating it with a rock until tender before placing it on the fire. In this dish, the texture is firm but yielding and there is an almost buttery richness that pairs well with the intense salty-savoury umami of the black bean.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
4 abalone (see note)
sea salt
beach herbs, such as karkalla, seablite and warrigal greens

For the black bean sauce

Quantity Ingredient
50g fermented black beans (douchi)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 spring onion (scallion), finely chopped
60ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds

Method

NOTE

  • Live abalone, like all live crustaceans, deteriorate rapidly and should be eaten as soon as possible.

    Place in a well-ventilated container covered with a wet, heavy cloth and keep in a cool place (between 6–16°C/40–60°F) for up to 3 days.
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