I had abalone for dinner last night. I have two left for dinner tonight.
Abalone used to be so abundant that the Jr. high kids would make abalone knives in metal shop class for a project. They had resin handles and a ruler to be used to measure legal abalone and then pry them off. You used to be able to snorkel and harvest a few abalone for dinner.
But they were horrendously overfished, illegally taken until they were virtually gone. They’ve been protected for over 30 years.
But there are some intrepid abalone farmers along the coast of California that are not only farming abalone for sale, but learning a tremendous amount of information about the abalone life cycle, breeding, diet, etc. The abalone they raise in a controled environment are disease free, parasite free, etc. The shells are beautifully clean (no barnacles, etc.) They are also working on releasing baby abalone into the ocean to restock old breeding grounds. Some day we may be able to dive for abalone again. But for now there are the farms. And unlike other fish farms, abalone are actually better farmed. They are free of toxins and are fed a healthy, natural diet: kelp.
I sent away for them from a farm near Monterrey. It cost $75.00 for one pound of abalone and I also got 4 shells. I had to pay an additional $38.00 for overnight shipping. They arrived in a styrofoam contained with four ice packs. Very heavy (hence the expense.) There were 16 abalone steaks. About the size of my hand, they cooked down to the size of my palm. (The abalone were about 4-5 years old when harvested. Another reason they were so expensive.) Enough to feed 2-4 adults. Well, there were three of us and between us all we only ate 10. So I have 2 leftover today and my parents have 4. I’d say enough to feed 4-6 adults.
They were absolutely delicious.
I spent this obscene amount of money because my Mom turned 80 last week and my Dad will turn 80 this week. They don’t want stuff and don’t need any stuff. (Although I did buy a photo printer for my Mom and gave her my old digital camera and my old miniDV video camera.) So I told them I would buy them dinner. A really good dinner for 3 in a really nice restaurant would cost about the same as what I spent; $40 per person. And if you could find a restaurant that can get abalone, an abalone dinner would probably run about $75.00 per person. So a bargain, really.
It was so good we may do this every year. I certainly wouldn’t mind having abalone once a year.
It was just totally awesome. And ecofriendly. Except for the shipping. But that FedEx truck would be delivering stuff all around anyway, so even that wasn’t so much. We’ll reuse the ice packs and the styrofoam container. And the four abalone shells that came with it are on display in my Mom’s dining room.
Happy Birthday, Mom and Dad.