Melissa Barnes
Abalone Pressed with Driftwood-Smoked Giant Kelp
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Abalone Pressed with Driftwood-Smoked Giant Kelp

John Cox, Sierra Mar, Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California / September 2012

For 4 servings (requires advance preparation)


  • fresh giant kelp
  • 4 small live red abalone, stored with fresh kelp until ready to serve
  • white soy sauce
  • rice wine vinegar
  • wild fennel pollen
  1. Trim off the giant kelp leaves; wash in hot water to remove slime; air dry 1 hour; put in smoker with chipped driftwood; set temperature to 150°F; smoke 2 hours or until dry but still pliable; remove from smoker; reserve.

  2. Lightly season kelp with soy sauce, vinegar, and fennel pollen; reserve.

  3. Slide a thin spoon along flat side of abalone shell to pry foot loose; gently pull abalone away from shell, being careful not to break liver or digestive tract; carefully cut entrails away from foot; reserve for another use; rinse abalone foot under cold water; scrub dry with kitchen towel to remove black coating on muscle; wrap each abalone in seasoned smoked kelp; press with a weight; cure in refrigerator overnight.

  4. Unwrap reserved abalone; rinse under cold running water; shave paper thin on the bias; reserve.


  • 3/4 cup white sesame vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tsps. young ginger, freshly grated
  • 2 tsps. green yuzu kosho (Japanese seasoning)
  • 2 tsps. shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven-spice blend)
  • pickled kelp strips, blanched, shocked, and submerged in a ginger/yuzu pickling brine (see note below)
  • sea grapes, submerged in ice water
  • dulse, deep-fried at 325°F
  • sea lettuce, submerged in ice water
  • Turkish towel seaweed, cut into thin strips
  • chain bladder kelp
  • mermaid’s hair seaweed, blanched and shocked
  1. Whisk vinegars, ginger, yuzu kosho, and shichimi togarashi in a bowl; reserve.

  2. To serve, arrange shavings of an abalone on each serving plate; scatter kelp strips, sea grapes, dulse, sea lettuce, Turkish towel, chain bladder, and mermaid’s hair around; drizzle sesame/ginger dressing over.

What to drink: Cédric Bouchard Inflo­res­cence Blanc de Noirs NV
Chef’s Note: To make yuzu pickling brine: bring to a boil 3 cups water, 3 cups rice wine vinegar, 2 Tbsps. green yuzu kosho, 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup kosher salt, 2 Tbsps. chopped ginger, 2 lime leaves, 3 crushed garlic cloves, 12 mint leaves, and 6 basil leaves; reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes; strain; reserve. • Fresh kelp and abalone can be found at Monterey Abalone Company ( or The Abalone Farm (
Food Arts Note: Learn more about sea vegetables in New Wave Greens.