How to Prepare Abalone for Cooking

Steps to Slice and Tenderize

Sliced Abalone
Raw Slices of Abalone MIXA/Getty Images
  • 01 of 05

    From Tough to Tender

    Whole, Trimmed Abalone
    Clean Abalone Ready to Slice. The Spruce / Molly Watson

    Abalone is famously delicious when prepared properly, considered kind of a cross between scallops and foie gras. When whole and raw, however, it is extremely tough. This mollusk is one solid muscle and needs some help relaxing into tenderness. Believe it or not, some people beat it with a baseball bat, while others stew it up and slow cook until tender. A preferred method is to slice it thinly and gently pound the slices a little thinner to break up the muscle just a bit, yielding rich and flavorful pieces.

    Before you can begin slicing and tenderizing, you need to make sure the abalone is fresh, whole, removed from the shell, and cleaned.

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Trim Outer Skin From Abalone

    Trimmed Abalone Slices
    Abalone Slices. The Spruce / Molly Watson

    You will find some tough, outer skin on the abalone which won't tenderize the way the rest of the abalone slice will. You can either remove this before slicing by carefully cutting it away without taking off any of the meat, or you can slice the abalone first and then cut off any tough skin from each piece. It takes a bit more time to do it this way, but it preserves more of the edible, hard-to-get and/or expensive meat.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Slice the Abalone

    Slicing Abalone
    Abalone Slice. The Spruce / Molly Watson

    You need to cut the abalone into thin slices. Pieces that are about 1/4-inch thick work well.

    If you did not trim off the outer skin of the abalone while cleaning it, you need to remove those swirled "lips" now; cut them off and discard them. 

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Pound Each Abalone Slice Until Tender

    Tenderizing Abalone
    Pounding Abalone. The Spruce / Molly Watson

    There are a few different techniques when it comes to tenderizing any type of meat (or shellfish in this case) so you just need to choose what works best for you. You can pound as is or place an abalone slice between two pieces of plastic wrap; the plastic greatly reduces the mess that pounding abalone produces and helps protect the slice of abalone from tearing or shredding as you pound it.

    Before you begin pounding, touch the abalone slice with your fingers so you know how it feels before being tenderized. Some people use a meat tenderizer but you may have success gently tapping all over the abalone slice with the back of a large spoon—this method tenderizes the flesh without tearing it.

    Pound the slice until tender, checking the abalone's texture every once in a while. The abalone flesh will feel noticeably softer when you touch it. Repeat with remaining slices.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Using the Tenderized Abalone Slices

    Sliced Abalone
    Abalone Ready to Cook or Serve. The Spruce / Molly Watson

    You now have a tenderized slice of abalone, ready to cook or eat raw—abalone sushi or crudo is delicious. Serve it fresh, chilled, and with a spritz of lemon, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and a dusting of sea salt or a drip of soy sauce with a tiny dollop of wasabi.

    If raw seafood isn't your thing, you can pan fry the abalone slices. Simply dust in a coating of seasoned flour and quickly saute in butter.