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Braised Dried Abalone with Mushroom

21 Feb

(serves 6)
Dried Abalone is one of the most exquisite of all Chinese delicacies and is served without fail at any respectable banquet. In Chinese cuisine, dried foodstuff when cooked properly is often preferred to the fresh original and Dried Abalone is considered to be the King of Dried Seafood. That’s why people take the effort to cook Dried Abalone over up to a weeks time. Compared to fresh abalone, Dried Abalone has a more intense flavour as well as a nicer tender texture to the bite.    
 

Ingredients Braised Abalone

  1. Dried Abalone (6 of 30g each)
  2. Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (6)
  3. Chicken Feet (12)
  4. Crushed Ginger (1T)
  5. Mini Chinese Cabbage (Bok Choy)
  6. Hon Dashi
  7. Chinese Wine
  8. Light Soya Sauce
  9. Oyster Sauce
  10. Brown sugar

Preparation 

  1. warning: this requires about a week of preparation.
  2. Soak the dried abalone in cold water. Keep in the fridge for 2 days changing the water every 12 hours or so. You can soak for a shorter period of time if you are using small abalone.
  3. The day after you put the abalone in the fridge start making the stock. Blanch the chicken feet in boiling water in a pot for a minute and then discard the water. Add 4 cups of fresh boiling water and bring to a simmer. Add 1T of Hon Dashi pellets. Simmer the stock for 20 minutesSnip This and allow to cool. Repeat the 20 minute simmer several times over a 24 hour period adding water as needed. If chicken feet make you squeamish or are hard to find, see my notes below for alternatives.
  4. After the long soak, you will notice you abalone have grown in size. Snip off the bits protruding from the round part of the abalone with scissors. It’s circled in red in the picture. This part contains the entrails of the abalone, so dig out any black bits you see as well. Then rinse well under running water.
  5. Place the abalone in a pot of cold water containing 1T of crushed ginger and 1T of Chinese wine. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. This step removes some of the abalone’s seafood odour. Allow to cool and then discard the water.
  6. Pour the chicken stock through a strainer into the pot with the abalone. Add 1T soya sauce, 1T oyster sauce and 2T Chinese wine. Simmer for 20 minutes and allow to cool with the cover on. Do this 4 to 5 times a day for the next 4 to 5 days. Add more water as needed to ensure the abalone are submerged the entire time or else the exposed part will become dark and hard. At first you will notice a strong smell of dried seafood but do not be alarmed, this will diminish to a nice aroma before you are done. The danger of sticking to the pot’s bottom is greatest when you begin reheating, so check often until you see bubbling.
  7. On the third day of simmering, soak 6 shiitake mushrooms in cold water with 1t of brown cane sugar for an hour. Snip off the stems and add the mushroom caps together with the mushroom soaking liquid to the pot. Continue simmering as before.
  8. When the abalone is done it will be bigger yet again as the gelatin from the stock will have bloated it further. The circular bottom of the abalone is the hardest part so your abalone is done if that part has softened as much as the surrounding flesh.  When you cut the abalone in half the core should be of the same colour as the rest of the abalone.
  9. After the abalone is nice and soft, remove all the solids and boil down the liquid until it thickens into a light sauce. It is normal to serve the abalone with some baby bok choy or broccoli so add this to the sauce as you are boiling it down if you wish.
  10. Hydrating Abalone

Notesabalone in simmer

  • The best quality dried abalone is from Japan, they are the ones that soften most easily with braising. The medium sized ones are from Yoshihama while the large ones are from Amidori. They also happen to be the most expensive. For home cooking the ones from Dalian China are a good compromise in terms of price and quality. Abalone from South Africa is the cheapest, but they don’t tend to get as soft.
  • The size of dried abalone is measured in ‘heads’. This is the number of abalone in a catty (600g) and ranges from 6-30. The smaller the number, the bigger the abalone. The ones I used are about 20 head.
  • Dried abalone must be aged to draw out the correct taste. This is done (by the wholesaler) by alternately sunning the abalone and storing it in a jar over a few years, after which it will darken and develop a white dusty look. Beware of clean looking dried abalone of a light colour if you are buying through the internet, as they are un-aged.
  • The golden rule of rehydration is to use cold water. Do not use hot water as it makes rehydrated foodstuff tough and rubbery
  • The number of times you need to simmer depends on the size of your abalone. This recipe assumes size 20 head abalone. Smaller ones require less simmering and larger ones more simmering.
  • The best pot to simmer abalone in is one made of clay, as pictured. They spread and keep heat well. You can still use a metal pot if you don’t have one. 
  • Chicken FeetChicken feet is ideal for this recipe because of the gelatine it produces when boiled. They have very little fat but a lot of skin and connective tissue. Gelatine is the secret to the nice texture of rehydrated abalone. Pork tail also give off gelatine, but unlike chicken the taste of pork does not blend that well with seafood so you need to use pork that is not ‘porky’. I’ve also tried oxtail, taste-wise its not a bad alternative but oxtail leaves a lot of floaty bits and oil which you have to remove.
  • I have found hon dashi to be the easiest way to flavour the stock properly but a more traditional alternative would be to use dried scallops or conpoy.
  • A common use for any left over abalone sauce is to toss it with egg noodles, like a pasta sauce.
  • Don’t use fresh mushrooms as they have the wrong flavour and they would disintegrate with so much boiling anyway.
  • Here are some reference pages to Shiitake Mushrooms, Chinese Wine and Hon Dashi.
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Main Courses, Oriental, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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