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
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.
Lightly season kelp with soy sauce, vinegar, and fennel pollen; reserve.
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.
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
Whisk vinegars, ginger, yuzu kosho, and shichimi togarashi in a bowl; reserve.
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 (www.montereyabalone.com) or The Abalone Farm (www.theabalonefarm.com).
Food Arts Note: Learn more about sea vegetables in New Wave Greens.