Blacklip Abalone, Brownlip Abalone, Greenlip Abalone, Roe's Abalone
Abalone are found along the southern coasts of Australia. The firm meat is considered a delicacy, especially in Asia. This makes the fishery very high value, and has historically led to overfishing of wild stock. Wild abalone are hand dived and reach about 20-25 cm. Abalone (predominantly Greenlip) are also farmed on land based farms in southern Australia. These farmed Abalone are usually sold at 'cocktail' size, about 70mm.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society lists Farmed abalone as a BETTER CHOICE, wild-caught abalone from Western Australian as BETTER CHOICE and wild-caught abalone from Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia as THINK TWICE. Read more here.
The Australian Government Stock Status Reports provide detailed information on the status of different Abalone species and fisheries Australia-wide. You can find this information here.
The why and how of sustainability
Stocks of wild Abalone have been historically overfished resulting in localised stock depletions. Careful management in these highly regulated fisheries has prevented further overfishing and resulted in the gradual recovery of many stocks, particularly for blacklip abalone. However viral infections and recreational pressure have challenged these efforts. While reduced fishing pressure has halted further depletion and allowed stocks in many areas to stabilise, this may be at biomass levels lower than the historic average. In Australia, farmed Abalone are fed a pelleted diet which contains ingredients sourced from land-based crops and wild-caught fishmeal. This means that while they are a more suitable alternative to wild caught, there are some environmental concerns with their culture. As with most aquaculture, the industry is working to reduce reliance on wild-caught fishmeal.
Preparation and cooking
Abalone can be tough if cooked incorrectly. It benefits from either a long slow cooking such as a wet braise, or a quick hot method such as stir frying. To serve raw, slice very thinly.
Larger abalone should be tenderised before cooking by beating lightly with a mallet until the muscle relaxes.
Check out our recipe for an easy and heartwarming Abalone and Chicken Congee.
SQUID/CUTTLEFISH The meat of squid and cuttlefish is firm like that of abalone. It is also suited to similar cooking methods, requiring either a long slow cook (for as long as 3 hours) or a quick grill or fry on high heat (for as little as 3 minutes) to yield tender eating qualities. High quality fresh squid, calamari or cuttlefish can be thinly sliced to serve raw.
The flesh of octopus is firm, but when cooked correctly is yielding and tender. It is meaty flesh, with many characteristics similar to that of Abalone. After poaching the tentacles, try slicing them and pan frying to give a result very similar to well-prepared Abalone