Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

abalone the common name used since the mid-19th century in N. America, and now generally adopted, for large single-shell molluscs of the genus Haliotis. Ormer and ear-shell are other English names.

An abalone can be regarded as a large and highly evolved kind of limpet, using the term in its general sense. It possesses seven holes in its shell through which water is drawn to be filtered through a pair of gills, and a very large oval ‘foot’ or adductor muscle by which it adheres firmly to its rock. It is this foot which is the edible part. Obtaining it is not easy, since the creature normally lives at a depth which makes it necessary to dive and then prise the shells away from the rock. However, the rewards are commensurate with the task, since abalone fetches a good price and its beautiful shell also has some commercial value.