Abalone Abalone, also known as sea ears, muttonfish or muttonshels, is a type of a gastropod mollusk proclaimed the most valuable shellfish in the world. It is native to Oceania, Mexico, the USA as well as the Ind-Pacific region. It is also commonly found in the UK and Normandy.
Abalone is not only known for its delicious and delicate meat but also highly aesthetic, polished shells with the iridescent colorful carapace. It can be found in wild on rocky outcrops where it searches for food. The shell is usually very tightly connected with the rock, that is why wild species require high skill, time, and dedication to be collected. Due to the complicated capturing, abalone is one of the most expensive shellfish available on the market. They usually live in places hard to reach and camouflage themselves. Additionally, the species is in danger of extinction, which led to capture limits in many countries. Some regulations are as strict as only 20 of them can be captured daily by a fisherman.
It is a very common dish ingredient in Southeast Asia cuisine, especially in Japan where it is called the ‘truffle of the ocean”. The price of wild abalone may be as high as $500 per kilo, taking into consideration the limitation of fishing in many places as well as the huge demand for this delicacy. Abalone is usually used as the main ingredient of sashimi, tartare, or carpaccio. It can be consumed raw thanks to its soft texture. It is also cooked and often served with butter and shrooms.
Growing popularity and demand for this mallet resulted in the formation of abalone farms. It began in the early 1950s in Japan and China. The extensive fishing significantly reduced the wild population of this animal that is why most of today’s market is supplied from farms. Apart from China and Japan, abalone is produced in Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Chile, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Thailand, and the United States. The largest artificial farm was created in 2012 in Flinders Bay, Australia. So far it is the largest abalone farm in the world.