I have been traveling a fair bit this summer and been working through some on hand projects at work and school. Finally, during my few days back after coming home from Vancouver, I decided to make a traditional chinese dish, Braised Abalone.
Abalone is a personal favorite. I usually have it out of a can with it soaked in chicken stock… yum! It is a popular ingredient especially during Chinese New Year as it is a symbol of wealth and good fortune to the Chinese and is considered a banquet fare. While some may find this ingredient rubbery… i find its succulent taste and velvety texture unforgettable!
Believe it or not, Abalone is actually this large marine snail!
It is called “Pao Yu” in Chinese, known as “awabi” in Japanese cuisine, as “loco” in South American, as “ormer” in the English Channel, as “muttonfish” in Australia and as “paua” in New Zealand. And personally, I find that it is the Chinese who have perfected its preperation.
Abalone usually comes in 3 forms: fresh from the shell, dried or canned. Canned ones are the easiest to prepare as it is ready to eat straight from the can. On the other hand, dried Abalone takes the longest to prepare as it requires 1 whole day of soaking before it can be used. As for fresh abalone, one needs to be skillful to handle the cleaning of the abalone.
For my dish, i chose dried abalone as dried abalone is the most flavorsome of the three.
A well prepared abalone known as “tang xin” must encompass 2 characteristics: As chewy as chinese “nian gao” (sticky cake) and it must stick to the knife when sliced. To reach this state, the trick is simply patience.
The abalone is usually prepared first with chicken stock before adding the other ingredients.
Choosing the Abalone:
I chose to use baby abalone for my experiment. Generally, Abalones are categorized based on its origins and its weight. Personally i prefer those that are from Japan over South Africa as i read from somewhere that the Japanese seems more particular in how they dry their abalone, which means more flavor and also less cleaning for me. I find that asking for help from an elder in the family or seeking advice from the Traditional Chinese Medicine/Herb stores that carry dried chinese delicacies useful when choosing your abalone.
Preparing the Abalone:
Soak dried abalone in cold water for 12 hours. After that run under water to remove dirts. You might want to use a toothpick to run through the tentacles to remove stuck dirts. After that soak in fridge for another 12 hours
After soaking, double boil the abalone in chicken stock(optional: add oyster sauce) for about 6 hours. The stock must cover the abalone.
Adding other ingredients:
I used Dried Scallops, Fish Maw(deep fried ones), Cordyceps, Sea Cucumber, Dried mushrooms and dried wolf berries in the dish.
Note: The trickiest of all to prepare is Sea cucumber as it takes about a week to prep(fluff) the sea cucumber propely, so i usually prepare a batch and freeze it for convenience sake.
First you soak dried scallops, mushrooms and wolf berries. Add them into the abalone pot.
Rinse Cordyceps and add into the pot too.
Double boil for 1-2 hours, add the sea cucumber and double boil for another 1/2 hour. Next, add fish maw and double another 15 min.
The dish will be ready to serve by the end of 8 hours!