All about Abalone

This last week, Wes and I ventured up to northern Mendocino county with our lovely friends Willis and Devon.  They were celebrating their two year anniversary and invited Wes and me to come with them for a little northern exposure.

The group

Packed down with all sorts of diving equipment, loads of food and dark chocolate, no cell phone reception, and Willis’ amazing driving skills, we set off on our adventure.  I still can’t remember the name of the town we stayed in, but know it is exactly 25 minutes north of Fort Bragg.  It was about a 4 hour windy, curving drive from San Francisco; I know I will never forget my time spent on the 128 highway. Willis found a beautiful house right on the ocean that we were able to rent out for the weekend.  The town had all of 50 people living in it.

Our main goal for the weekend was to relax and to catch some abalone. We were successful!

Our abalone shells

Before this weekend, I honestly had no idea what an abalone was. But, after a little wikepedia help and youtube videos, I became pretty well versed.  Abalone are large sea snails housed in absolutely beautiful shells (once you remove all of the gunk).  To catch them, we had to venture out into the Pacific in 7mm wetsuits and dive down and pry them off of rocks. I say this like I actually helped, but I actually only floated and swam on top while all the others did the heavy lifting.  One too many episodes from Shark Week had me a bit nervous to do any serious diving.  However, there were no casualties and everyone in our group did great.  We brought home 6 abalones.  Luckily for us, one of Willis’ friends is an abalone expert and offered to remove the abalone “steak” from the shell for us.  It was quite a job, one I’m very glad I did not have to take part in. 

We had been instructed that the best way to prepare the abalone was to cut the steak into 1/4 inch size pieces, then hammer it until it was almost paper thing. Once that consistency was reached, they were to be breaded and fried.  This is where I came in.  Diving may not be my thing, but cooking and frying sure is. 🙂

Ready to be breaded

Armed with Panko, peanut oil, flour, and an egg wash, we got to work.  The boys did the hammering, while I prepared the set up and got the breading seasoned.  All in all, we fried up two abalone and Devon and Willis took the other four home.  I think the abalone turned out great. Right after they got done frying, we added lemon juice for just a little extra flavor.  Served with a simple tomato basil salad, grilled corn on the cob, and dark chocolate brownies for dessert, this meal was one of my favorites of the summer.

Finishing them off with a little lemon

Our spread

 Thank you Devon and Willis for including us in such an awesome weekend. Can’t wait for you guys to come and visit us in Dallas!!


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