When you have a craving for New Zealand paua, but can’t get any, what do you do? Tasmanian abalone is a very close relative of NZ paua. Sautéed abalone, or paua, is a great way to get the best from this ocean delicacy.
There is nothing quite like New Zealand paua. While a member of the abalone family, it has a strong and distinctive flavour that is quite addictive. At least I think so. In reality it is something of an acquired taste. Tasmania, a state of Australia, is not far from New Zealand and at a similar latitude. Tasmanian abalone are more similar to NZ paua than abalone found elsewhere and so is appraise for many of the same recipes, including this sautéed abalone.
Stocks of wild Tasmanian abalone have declined significantly due to overfishing. Now strict quotas exist, as they do with NZ paua. Luckily for lovers of this delicacy, the availability of farmed Tasmanian abalone has increasingly significantly. Farming paua has many challenges and so is still a fledgling industry.
Abalone, like paua, is notoriously difficult to cook. The default for paua is to mince it and use it in fritters. Sliced very thinly and quickly sautéed also produces delectable results. The approach taken here with this sautéed abalone is to stir fry it with a little chorizo, garlic and chilli. For the price you pay for Tasmanian abalone, or due to the scarcity of paua, we need to provide a vehicle for this amazing flavour, one which is going to provide some bulk yet keep the abalone/paua flavours in the spotlight.
The soba noodles
Enter soba noodles. Not alone among soba noodle recipes on delectabilia, and for good reason. These buckwheat flour noodles have great taste, texture, and are healthier than noodles made only with refined wheat or rice flour. And they work so well with sautéed abalone, highlighting it, but not dominating it.
Tasmanian abalone (or NZ paua) sautéed with garlic chilli and soba noodles
- 4 frozen fresh Tasmanian abalone or 4 New Zealand paua
- 4 cloves garlic finely diced
- 2 red chillies finely diced
- 20 g Chorizo finely chopped
- Juice of a lime
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup spring onions finely diced, separating the white parts from the green parts
- 200 g dried soba noodles
- 1/2 cup dashi made with bonito flakes – katsuobushi
- 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Mirin
- Shichi-mi tōgarashi to garnish a Japanese chilli spice condiment
- Defrost the abalone by keeping in the refrigerator overnight. It is important to defrost slowly.
- Remove the abalone from the shells.
- Remove and discard the guts and beak.
- Slice the abalone very finely. Use a very sharp knife.
- Combine the garlic, chilli, lime juice, white parts of the spring onions, and sliced abalone in a zip-lock bag. Put in refrigerator and allow to marinate for 20 minutes.
- Cook the soba noodles according to packet – usually 6 or 7 minutes. Refresh under cold water and set aside.
- Add the vegetable oil and chopped chorizo to a wok and bring up to a medium heat. Cook the chorizo until it releases its oils.
- Drain the lime juice from the abalone. Separate the marinated abalone from the garlic, spring onions and chilli.
- Add the garlic, spring onions and chilli to the chorizo and cook until fragrant but don’t let the garlic start to brown.
- Add the abalone stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin and allow to come up to a boil.
- Add the soba noodles and green parts of the spring onions and toss to combine all the ingredients. Keep over the heat until the soba noodles are warmed through.
- Serve on warm plates. Sprinkle with some shichi-mi tōgarashi.