Chef's tips with Olivier Roellinger
The abalone is the shell emblem of the Emerald Coast. It only develops on certain kinds of rock, facing the open sea in the undertow of the waves where seaweed grows (again, a specific kind) on which it feeds. For it to have the best flavor, the abalone needs cold water, which is why it's not eaten in the summer. In the fall it has a more intense, brinier flavor.
Prepare 3 days in advance
When the live mollusks come out of the sea, put them in a basket and leave them in the lower part of the refrigerator for 48 hours where they will grow weaker. Then shell them while they are at a temperature of 3-5° C, remove the beards (reserve them) and rub them under running water to remove any trace of black. Return them to the refrigerator on a damp cloth for 24 hours. Just before cooking, put on gloves and massage them gently: that's the secret. The muscles relax and the abalone is ready to cook. Its texture will be perfect.
This mollusk belongs to the Haliotidae family. Its pink wavy shell makes it the most attractive of its family. The inside is covered with a magnificently-colored pearly nacre.
Abalone and the Nootkas
Long ago, the winds blew ceaselessly: there was no low tide and it was impossible to fish for mollusks. It was decided, therefore, to kill the winds. Sent out to do reconnaissance, several animals ran aground, including the winter blackbird which was able to penetrate into the house of the winds, but forgot its mission as it warmed itself before the fire, burning itself and leaving red patches.
Neither did the sardine have any more success, returning with its eyes closer to its snout than its gills. Finally, despite its weak vision and broken arms, the gull made it over the cape swept by violent winds that protected the entrance to the enemy village. The skate and the halibut posted themselves near the door; as they came out, the winds slipped on the halibut, fell and tore themselves apart on the barbs of the skate. Only the west wind offered any resistance; but he promised, nonetheless, that in the future he would bring fine weather and light breezes and would alternate the ebb and flow twice a day so that humans could gather mollusks for food. On this condition, they spared his life and since that time, the Native Indians of the coast have removed the nacre from the shells after their meals and used it to decorate their ceremonial masks in order to honor their animal ancestors for taming the winds in order that the sea might feed them.
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