All the abalone you find on the commercial market these days is farmed. Although you can recreationally harvest a bit of abalone in the US, no population of wild abalone can support a commercial harvest. Enter aquaculture!
Abalone are now farmed around the world, allowing us to continue to enjoy this tasty shellfish while wild populations rebuild and rebound. Farming of abalone is generally considered very sustainable, and we also appreciate a steady flow of high quality product to the market. Farmed abalone tend to be smaller than wild harvest abalone, so if you’re used to a big, fat wild Red Abalone from California make sure you adjust your expectations. The quality, flavor, and texture remain excellent.
No matter where your abalone is from, enjoy not only the unique flavor and texture of abalone, but also its gorgeous shell!
Range & Habitat: Wild abalone are found on coastlines around the planet, on the Pacific coast from California to Chile, as well as in Asia, Japan, Africa, and Europe and are now farmed in a variety of countries.
Identification & Biology: Abalone are easy to identify. They are univalves (snails, actually) so only one shell on top, with a foot-like muscle on the bottom. Their beautiful interiors of their shells are unmistakeable.
Market Description: The adductor muscle is mainly what we eat – mild with a slightly sweet flavor and firm texture. Some more adventurous chefs do buy whole abalone and work with different parts, including the liver (awabi kimo on a sushi menu).