Abalones don't give you much latitude when it comes to cooking time, so they need an aggressive, high-temperature cooking method like deep-frying to prevent them from toughening. Mollusks like abalones have protein fibers bound tightly with special connective tissue -- not gristle or cartilage as you see in meat, but just as tough. If you cook the abalone for more than 5 or 6 minutes, it toughens irreparably unless you simmer it for about 2 hours. That's why deep-frying at between 360 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit works; the abalone reaches the heat of tenderness quickly without having the chance to toughen.
Things You'll Need
- Plastic wrap
- Meat mallet
- Vegetable or peanut oil
- Soda water
- Slotted deep-frying spoon
- Paper towels
Rinse the abalones under cool running water. If you have dried abalones, cover them with 3 or 4 inches of water or fish stock and let them soak for 3 days in the refrigerator.
Slice the abalone into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Working with 1 slice at a time, cover the abalone with plastic wrap on the work surface.
Tap the sliced abalone with the flat side of a meat mallet gently, using glancing blows. Gentle tapping tenderizes without tearing.
Feel the slices of abalone after you tap them a few times. Tenderized abalone feels supple and soft, like a fresh clam. Tap the slices a couple of more times if needed.
Mix together equal parts ice-cold soda water and all-purpose flour along with a pinch of baking soda and 1 egg per cup of each. Mix the batter just until smooth and place it in the freezer for a few minutes while the oil you'll be using heats.
Heat at least 4 inches of peanut or vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer after about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat so the temperature reads between 360 and 375 F.
Take the batter from the freezer and stir it once or twice. Season the abalone lightly with kosher salt on one side.
Lift an abalone slice, dip it in the batter and let the excess drip back into the bowl. Lay the slice in the oil, and repeat with the other slices. Add only the amount of abalone slices to the pot at one time that will allow them to cook without touching each other.
Deep-fry the abalone until it floats on the oil, about 2 minutes. Turn the slices over and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the abalone to a plate lined with a few paper towels to drain while you fry the rest. Serve immediately.