Our camping weekend at Ft. Bragg was really all about abalone. The group of friends we joined are avid abalone divers. They make a couple of dives every season: Memorial Day and Labor Day. For us, this camping adventure was a culinary first. We were abalone newbies! We weren't sure how, or if, we'd like it. But, we were definitely up for the adventure of it all.
On Saturday, we headed to the beach with the divers in our group to see what's what in diving for abalone. We chose not to actually do any diving. Instead, we did our best to document the work of Matt, Steve, Manny and Robert. (And, relax and enjoy a sunny day on the beach while they were doing their thing.)
Matt and Steve headed out first. They walked the beach and jumped into the frigid Pacific to swim toward their favorite abalone finding spot. (You can see them in the lower left corner above.)
Manny and Robert donned their dive gear and headed out in Robert's boat. (And P and M sat in the sun on the beach. Very relaxing!)
An hour or so later, all of the divers returned safely and successfully with their limit of the sea urchins that look like rocks when they come out of the water (Didn't get any pics of that.) and something else when they are cleaned. (Didn't get any pics of that, either. One of us was napping!)
With the abalone cleaned and ready to go, Robert went to work making thin slices of the things. (Note: It's extra helpful to go abalone camping with a caterer. He brought along industrial equipment to make quick work of the job.) The thin slices were tough as nails. M tried to push her thumb through the center of several slices and couldn't. (That's tough!)
If thin slicing is the first step to making abalone edible, pounding is definitely the second. With mallets hand-crafted by camper John, the group set about the task of pounding these thin little abalone discs into something that looks like a dishrag, and is one step closer to being a delicacy.
The next step to making abalone edible is dipping each pounded piece into flour, eggs and herbed bread crumbs. (Yes, plastic gloves ARE essential!)
And what did the newbies think?
Basically, we like just about anything that's breaded and deep fried. (Who doesn't?) And, abalone is no exception. Especially when enjoyed in the great outdoors in the company of friends, this is mighty tasty stuff.