Abalone Preparation and Recipes

Live Abalone, in its beautiful shell, is an incredible delicacy, but can look daunting when it arrives. While the preparation steps appear lengthy, it is actually painless in both skill and time required. Basically, you get it out of the shell, clean it up, slice it, and tenderize it. It is certainly worth the little time this takes. I quick sautéed them in butter and put a great sauce on top and every one loved them.

Preparation (From the Spruce Eats BY  Updated 08/05/18)

Pry the Abalone From Its Shell

Remove Abalone From Shell

Clearly, the abalone needs to be taken out of its shell. These gastropod mollusks are more or less one giant muscle clinging for life to that shell, so getting them out in one piece has a method to it:

  1. Use a wide, flat wooden spatula or similarly thin, blunt tool and work it between the abalone and its shell. The abalone attaches to its shell with a solid round muscle at the bottom, everything else is just clinging to the shell.
  2. Work open a section between the abalone and the shell, and then firmly but gently work the spatula around and along the shell until the abalone detaches.
  3. Push against the shell with the tool rather than the abalone for easiest release and to keep the abalone whole.

Remove the Abalone From Its Shell

Separate Abalone From Its Shell

Once you've pried the abalone from its shell, slide it out. Set the shell aside - you can scrub it clean and air-dry it for decorative use if you like.

You can do this work in the sink. The next step is removing the guts from the abalone and working in the sink helps to keep clean-up quick and easy.

Cut off the Viscera From the Abalone

Cleaning Abalone

Separating the meat of the abalone from its guts is the part of cleaning abalone that gets a little funky. Here is how to do it quickly and with a minimal amount of fuss and grossness:

  1. Hold the main body of abalone and let the viscera (the guts) hang down over a sink or bowl. Use a sharp knife to cut off the viscera.
  2. Discard the viscera.*  Use the food disposal, if you have one, or enclose it in 2 plastic bags to avoid stinky trash.


Scrub the Abalone Clean

Cleaning Abalone

Some abalone have a layer of black stuff on its sides. Part of this is just the edge of the abalone, and some is a film. You want to remove both parts because it's icky looking and bitter tasting.

The quickest solution is to simply cut off the black edges, and it's the method many people use. You can also take a bit more time and scrub off the black film along the sides of the abalone.

Cut off the Tough Edges From the Abalone

Trimming Abalone

While they are perfectly edible, if a tad rough and tough, most people are going to enjoy their abalone more if you cut off and discard the curled edges (aka the "lips") and the tough, pointed end.

Cleaned Abalone

Whole, Trimmed Abalone 
Check it out. From an in-shell prehistoric-looking monster shellfish to a whole, cleaned abalone all clean and pretty and ready to cook.

Depending on the size of the abalone and your preferences, you may want to slice the abalone lengthwise to create smaller "steaks".

Tenderizing, or pounding the slices (or whole) is an important part of the process. It is recommended that a piece of plastic wrap be placed over the slice in order to help protect it from being cut. Blows of the tenderizing hammer should be done lightly, and the hammer should be “released” as soon as contact is made so that the hammer is not driven through the slice.


here is the recipe I used most recently - really good as first course so that this recipe for 2 served 6 as a first course.

Abalone with Ginger Butter Sauce


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots, minced
  • 3 T. dry white wine
  • 3 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1 t. heavy whipping cream
  • 2 t. ginger purée
  • 6 - 8 To-Table Abalone steaks
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • Viola flowers or pansies for garnish (optional)

Melt 1 T of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until transparent. Add the wine and vinegar. Cook until the mixture is reduced to about 1 T and is syrupy. Whisk in the cream. Reduce the heat to low.

Set aside 2 T of the butter. Cut the remaining butter into pieces. Whisk in the butter, piece by piece, working on and off the heat as necessary to keep the butter from melting before it is emulsified. Whisk in the ginger purée. Remove from heat. Keep warm in a very low oven or in the top of a double boiler over simmering water.

Lightly pat steaks dry with a paper towel. Coat both sides of steaks with flour and shake off excess. Melt the remaining 2 T of butter in a medium size skillet over medium-high heat. Place enough abalone in the skillet to cover the bottom. Cook for 30 - 60 seconds on each side until golden brown.

Immediately transfer the abalone to a warm serving platter. Pour the ginger butter sauce over the abalone. Garnish with flowers. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

There are two dozen other good recipe ideas from FishTech found here.


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