The commercial fishing for red abalone was discontinued in 1997 due to dramatic population decreases. Red abalone is now collected lawfully on a limited, recreational basis exclusively in Northern California (north of San Francisco). However, because these animals are protected by law, they are rarely found outside of licensed harvests.
Red abalone is an edible mollusk found in shallow waters around the world. It gets its name from the rusty-colored shell that can grow as large as 6 inches across. Similar in size to a large clam, red abalone have five soft, white shells that close when the animal is threatened or feels danger is near. The animal lives about 10 years and can produce offspring even in old shells by releasing sperm and eggs through pores located along their sides. Sperm remains inside the female until she finds a suitable place to spawn. When this happens, she will release all her eggs at once.
Although red abalone has no meat, it does have a sweet flavor and creamy texture similar to that of lobster. Because there's so few of them left, only recreational harvest is allowed in California. However, if you're lucky enough to find one in your seafood store, don't waste any time eating it! They usually come already cleaned and ready to cook, but if not, that doesn't matter because they're almost impossible to kill.
While wild abalone remains an endangered species, farmed abalone is significantly more sustainable and has been authorized by seafood watch programs. Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. are the only days that American Abalone is open. They cultivate fresh and vacuum-sealed frozen California red abalone in saltwater tanks and offer both fresh and vacuum-sealed frozen abalone. There is also a selection of specialty foods, such as caviar, sablefish roe, and salmon sausage.
The farm is located in Santa Cruz County, about an hour's drive south of San Francisco. It is best to visit during your Saturday morning shopping trip to the city. No reservations are required, but visitors tend to be limited to around 20 people per hour. Children under 12 years old are not allowed inside the farm.
American abalone is commonly compared to its molluskicous cousin the Chinese abalone because they look very similar and many Asian dishes use either kind of abalone. However, their flavor profiles are quite different and require different cooking methods. For example, while it is possible to eat raw Chinese abalone, this is not recommended for American abalone because they have a toxic shell that needs to be removed before eating.
Even though American abalone is much more common in commerce, it is the Chinese variety that is actually edible. The difference is that Chinese abalone tends to be larger and has a more intense flavor than its American counterpart.
The West Coast of North America is home to seven species of abalone (red, pink, black, green, white, pinto, and flat). It's worth noting that the pinto and threading abalones were originally considered distinct subspecies. However, genetic testing has since shown them to be two separate species.
Abalone are mollusks in the family Haliotidae. There are about 120 species of abalone, which are found in marine environments around the world. Most species are endemic to a single region or continent. A few species have been introduced into new areas by humans, including California sea bass (Electrona vittata) and Australian green abalone (Haliotis maculata).
West Coast abalone include the: red (Rubia salicornia), pink (Magallana philippica), black (Haliotis melanochroma), green (Hydrangea macrophylla), white (Haliotis dumosa), pinto (H. venenata), and flat (Arctica islandica).
These are all bivalves with an exoskeleton made of calcium carbonate. They get their name from the pattern of rings inside the shell. Each ring represents one year of growth. The older the animal, the more rings it has. Black abalone have no other color than black.
Abalone is only available in the months of April, May, June, August, September, October, and November. (2) Hours of Operation: Abalone may be taken only between 8:00 a.m. and one-half hour after sunset. Harvest hours will vary depending on location but generally do not go past 6:00 p.m. during the summer months.
Harvesting equipment for use in abalone harvesting includes hand-held clam diggers, which look like spades, and tractors with clamming forks attached. Digging clams with a tractor is called "tractor diving".
Only male abalone shellfish are harvested for food; females release eggs and sperm into the water column where they can be fertilized by ocean currents or other males. The resulting larvae develop inside the female shellfish before releasing themselves into the sea as small, planktonic juveniles called "velvet beans". Male velvet beans seek out new homes by swimming to shore where they can attach themselves to rocks or other objects using byssus threads produced by special cells within their bodies. There, they will grow large enough to shed their shells and begin all over again!
California's coast has many different habitats suitable for abalone farming including rocky shores, sandy beaches, and even underwater caves.
Previously, the size limit was 100 millimeters. Big abalone are not tougher than little abalone; they are all tough until they are smashed. http://www.seafood.ucdavis.edu/pubs/abalone.htm A thorough examination of California species, natural history, and capture.
If you're wondering why abalone is so pricey, the answer is because it has to be gathered by hand. Because of this manner of fishing, abalone is generally only accessible in restricted quantities. Also, since it is usually sold fresh, there is no way to preserve it for later use.
Abalone is rich in minerals and vitamins, including vitamin B12. It also contains zinc, copper, iodine, and iron. Abalone is used in Japanese cooking to add color and flavor to soups and stews. It can also be shaved into thin sheets and used as a wrapper for sushi. In addition, the meat can be sliced into pieces and stir-fried with vegetables or sauce for a quick meal.
The shell of an abalone is similar in shape to a scallop but is larger and more oval. There are two kinds of abalone: California sea hare and Australian greenling. Both are edible and have similar flavors but they come from different species. California sea hares are found in both deep and shallow waters while Australian greenlings are only found in shallow waters at depths of about 30 feet (10 m).
In order to catch abalone, divers use long lines with baited hooks. The fish are pulled up from the bottom through small holes called "gills" in the ocean floor.