Abalone is a prized shellfish in Asian countries, and there is no exception with Japan. It is considered a delicacy and a bit pricey. It is very crunchy and full of sea aroma when consumed raw. Some good sushi restaurants will puree the liver (male have dark brown color, and female have a green color) with soy sauce and rice wine to create a wonderful sauce just meant for the abalone sushi.
Early Edo style sushi used to steam abalone with rice wine and then lightly glaze them with tsume sauce. This prevented them from spoiling quickly, but changed the abalone from a firm and crunchy texture full of aromas, to a soft and chewy texture with deeper flavors. When it is steamed, the strong aroma is lost,but the flavors become more apparent in this type of preparation.
In addition to being used in sushi, abalone can be found in a number of other Japanese dishes. It’s usually prepared in one of two different ways. The first is raw. However, in order to be safely eaten raw, it has to be kept alive until right before being served, and it also has to be kept at a very low temperature. When it’s eaten raw, it retains its crunchy texture and its strong aroma. Many sushi chefs also make certain that the diner hears the crunch of the raw abalone, so they will go out of their way to include nothing that would make the fish softer.
Popular styles: Nigiri
Popular condiments: Wasabi (Swee tsoy sauce when steamed)