Steamed Ab Alone

Awabi No Saka Mushi

Steamed with a minimum of seasonings, this abalone dish is delicate and tender, making it a lovely hors d’oeuvre. Prepared in this manner, it may well change the minds of many who think of abalone as rubbery and tasteless. If you can’t find abalone, try steaming shucked cherrystone clams on open half shells for only 2–3 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 2–3 fresh abalone, on the half shell, each weighing about ½ pound
  • 1½–2 teaspoons salt
  • 1–1½ tablespoons saké (rice wine)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • Wedges of lemon or lime

Method

Scrub the shells lightly and rinse off any sand. Trim the abalone meat of any spongy growth around the edges. Lightly salt the abalone and place them, shell down, in a steamer. Pour ½ tablespoon of rice wine over each abalone.

Over high heat, bring the water in the bottom of your steamer to a rapid boil. Adjust the heat to maintain a steady flow of steam and cook the abalone for 20–25 minutes. Test by piercing the flesh with a toothpick; the abalone should be very tender. Pour off the steaming juices and remove the abalone meat from the shells. (Rinse and save the shells if you wish to use them for serving.)

Cut the abalone, slightly on the diagonal (sogi-giri cut), into -inch-thick slices. Arrange the slices on a platter, or return them to their shells. Make a dipping sauce by combining the fruit juice and soy sauce, providing additional wedges of lemon or lime for those who wish. Serve warm (but do not reheat) or at room temperature.