Prepare and Cook

Last Modified 23-May-2000

Tools needed:

  • Ab iron
  • Fillet knife
    • Cutting abalone will dull a knife very quickly, clean, then sharpen your knife with the ceramic sharpening sticks often.
  • Ceramic sharpening sticks (the diamond stick works well also)
  • Cutting board for trimming
  • Pounding board
    • a 4"x12"x 24" [100 x 300 x 600mm] header beam scrap works very well
    • whatever you use should be stable, heavy, water resistant, and durable
  • Smooth faced meat tenderizing mallet(s)
    • I use hickory with a 2 3/4" [70mm] round faced 5 1/2" [140mm] long head and a 10" [250mm] handle

    Illustration: Ab Mallet

  • Bowls
  • Aprons
  • Trash bags

Pop it free of the shell

Illustration: Popping it out of the shell
  • Put the round end of the ab on the ground
  • Place the tip of your ab iron, bevel-side away from the shell, at the base of the stalk that holds the ab in its shell.
  • Gently but firmly push the ab iron under the stalk, popping the ab free of the shell (if you want a scratch-free shell, use a piece of hard wood the same size and shape as an ab iron)
  • Don't detach the membranes from the shell yet.

The California Fish and Game regulations state: "Abalone must be transported attached to the shell." and "...Abalone are to be prepared for immediate consumption, (Sonoma County's guideline on immediate consumption is "Where's the cook fire?" if there isn't one you could get a ticket.) once detached from the shell." So, this is as far as you can go in the preparation process, if you're going to drive home after catching abs.

ALSO, for those of you who have a HUGE ab feed on Saturday night, prepare only what you can eat. Fish and Game has been known to walk through camp grounds after dinner looking for abalone steaks in ice chests. (They can site you for this. Why? >> There is NO way of measuring the abalone the steaks came from.) (see regulation)


Illustration: Separating foot from guts

Illustration: Separating Ab from shell

Illustration: Trimming guts from foot


  • Trim all the tough mantle off. (With red abalone, the meat that you can tenderize is creamy white and the untenderizable meat is a darker tan color; make sure to trim all the darker meat off.)

    Illustration: What to trim


  • Keep your knives sharp (a dull knife requires more force to cut through something and will cause more damage if you slip.)
  • Always cut away from yourself
  • Watch where you're cutting (abs are slippery critters)


  • Ab should be sliced horizontally

    Illustration: Slicing Abalone

    (The steak closest to the bottom of the foot is usually very tough.)

  • One trick I use (especially for big ones): Cut the trimmed ab in half vertically and then make you're horizontal cuts.

    Illustration: Vertical slice trick for big abs

  • Steaks should be about pencil thickness. (You can use a meat slicer; but, it should be heavy duty. Abalone is tough stuff.)


  • Put your pounding board on a strong stable table.
  • Using a smooth faced mallet, gently tenderize the ab steaks until they feel like wet dish rags.

    Illustration: Pounding abalone

    • try to hit with even pressure across the entire face of the mallet
    • only lift the mallet about one to two inches
    • If the ab steaks are spliting and breaking apart:
      • pound it more gentilly
      • if it's just the edges, trim the tough parts off. (feel the steak with your finger tips for tough spots)
  • It's not how hard you pound them, it's how many times you pound them.
  • Also, keep your fillet knife handy to trim off any tough parts that refuse to become tender (the part that feel like you're mallet is bouncing back).


Traditional breaded and fried abalone

  • lay out three shallow bowls in this order:
    • flour
    • scrambled raw egg
    • bread or cracker crumbs
  • dip the pounded abalone steaks in the flour, then egg, then bread crumbs
  • heat an iron frying pan and add a bottom covering of oil, butter, or margarine
    • you can add crushed garlic, chili oil, or other spices to the butter for different tastes
  • fry the breaded abalone steaks approximately 15 to 30 seconds a side
  • serve up hot out of the pan (You should be able to cut the steaks with a plastic fork.)

Poached abalone in white wine

  • heat an iron frying pan and add some white wine, so the wine is simmering
  • place the abalone steaks in the wine and cover for 2 to 3 min (?)
  • serve hot out of the pan

Whole baked abalone

  • gut and trim the abalone
  • put the whole trimmed ab in a plastic ziplock bag
  • pound it a five to ten times with a baseball bat.
    (be careful not to split the ab; you just want to relax it.)
  • remove from bag
  • lightly season (with garlic, white wine, sliced onion or apple, etc. Whatever you like.)
  • double wrap in aluminum foil
  • place in the coals of the fire for fortyfive minutes
  • unwrap and eat

Marinated abalone salad

  • slice and pound the abalone thin
  • cut in to short narrow strips (1/2 x 1 1/2" [13 x 40mm])
  • marinate in key lime and /or lemon juice for two hours
  • drain and serve cold

Grilled abalone

  • dip the abalone steaks into oil-less Italian salad dressing, soy sauce, etc.
  • cook the steaks approx. 30 seconds a side on the BBQ

    TIP: you might want to use a nonstick cooking tray with holes in it rather than the wire grill; ab steaks always stick to the grill or fall through it.

  • server hot

Abalone sushi

  • (need recipe for sushi rice)
  • cut pounded abalone steaks into strips about 1 x 2" [25 x 50mm]
  • make rice cake with the sushi rice
  • put a small dab of wasabe on top of the rice cake
  • place a strip of ab on top of the rice cake
  • serve with pickled ginger, soy sauce, and more wasabe

Abalone burgers

  • take pounded abalone steaks
  • grind them in a meat grinder
  • make patties out of the ground abalone
  • grill on the BBQ (see tip above) or fry in a frying pan
  • serve on a sour dough roll with some kind of light sauce

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Last Modified 23-May-2000