Thursday, September 27, 2007

Abalone porridge congee - abalone bites and bytes

Enter the highest grade of seafood, as claimed by some. Aye, what is so nice about this ?? Go bite and chew on some quality grade rubber! HUH ? Right, some people like it, some don't.

Most abalones are found mainly in cold waters. It grows very slow taking around five to ten years to mature. Most people think that abalone is high in cholesterol but apparently it is not. Abalone is very high in protein and contains a blend of the both vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium and, zinc, beta carotene and others, yet the fat content is extremely low and it contains almost no cholesterol. It is not only suitable but beneficial for every age - the effects of beauty, health and longer life. Can someone verify all these ? :P

Porridge made premium with generous cuts of A-BA-LO-NEE...

Food Bytes:
1. Do you know Abalone is considered auspicious food ? They are usually served during some Chinese wedding dinners, and during Chinese New Year. Abalone is pronounced as
鲍鱼 - Bao Yu in Mandarin, and in Mandarin the exact characters 包 余 also pronounced as Bao Yu means "guaranteed with excess"...errrrrrrr...excess of the good things of course such as Vitamin M also known as money, prosperity etc

2. If you ever hear the abalone experts talking about the how-many-headed-abalone, you are not seeing medusa-like creatures. They are just referring to the size of the abalone. Some abalones are referred to as 1-headed abalone, and some as 4-headed abalone, simply because the restaurateurs usually buy their abalone by weight. If they stock-in 1-headed abalone, they make sure YOU, as customers know it, because it means 1 catty(in ancient China) ~ 1.33 lbs ~ 600g is that weight and SIZE of that ONE abalone! Big, isn't it? So 1-headed abalone means 1 abalone PER catty, and 4-headed abalone means 4 abalones PER catty. It's claimed that the bigger the abalone, the more expensive and it tastes better. Hahah! For once, 1-head better than many! LOL! Go and try these abalones and let me know if 1-head taste better than 2-heads :P
(Geez...I hate it when they use catty. Grown up with grams and kilos, then now buying in ounces and pounds...and you tell me there is something else termed the "CATTY" ?!?!? )

3. If you think it's hard to come up with abalone variations, there are TEN dishes here, created using fresh Japanese abalone, in the Battle of Abalone. (Click on the arrow below, to play snippet)

Courtesy from Youtube

There are five installments to this, and I'm pretty amazed by this particular segment on grilled abalone strips and OMG...grated abalone!

Food Bites:
The abalone taste is sweet and is claimed to produce a result of moisture, eliminating "heat" in the body system, general health and vitality. Abalone is equivalent, to shark’s fin and a-bird-called-swallow's nest (made of saliva!!!), as one of the top three high-class ingredients in Chinese cuisine. Gourmet high-class restaurants usually braise these precious abalones to perfection and serve them with mushrooms and Chinese spinach. Unami unami unami....

Canned abalones of good quality are sold at a premium too, sometimes at more than 100 bucks for just one can. The famous brand is CalMex - named because of the abalone culture in Baja California, Mexico.

I "smuggled" two cans of abalone (courtesy from mom, or courtesy from mom's Chinese New Year gift hampers) into my luggage the last I returned to S'pore for a visit. Not that I can't get abalone in California but I suppose mom thinks we won't have the spare cash to indulge (which is A FACT...) while I'm away from home. I've since used up one can. For what? To cook comforting porridge! Porridge may be viewed by some as food for the sick/ill or food for the poor, but oh-boys-and-girls...I can't repeat enough that I love porridge - one dish meal or set-meal, give that all to me! I can drink porridge to my heart's content.

Though my mom does not cook and nobody taught or influence me how to cook, she did not forget to teach me the "how-to" when utilizing these abalone...canned the fullest. Canned abalone does not require much cooking, just usage. Some passed-down secret recipes even suggest you should open up the can a little and steam the whole can of abalone and "juice"/broth to bring up the entire abaloney flavor! :O For me, mom did remind me many times to keep the "juice" in the can of abalone for other cooking. How I can pour essence into the sink? The "juice" or broth can be used in simple vegetable stir-fries too just like how oyster sauce can do magic. From a broth expert in Iron Chef (the original Japansese version):"...the broth determines the outcome of every dish I make..."

Abalone Chicken Porridge or Congee
Ingredients: chicken (leftover shredded, or wings), dried scallops, abalone cut into slices, rice for cooking porridge

Directions: Boil the chicken with dried scallops, set the chicken aside and keep the chicken stock. Use the chicken stock to boil and cook the rice to porridge (time depends on how you like your porridge). If you like it real gooey, you can cook it for a longer time.

When the rice porridge starts to cook, add in the chicken and the abalone "broth" and continue cooking. That's it, simple right?

Wanna a bowl ? I think I'm cooking this again - the same thing, same dish, using that last (and second) can of abalone. Reason: The photos did not turn out well the last time, so I hope I can prepare this again and take my last (also second) shot at this dish. REAL reason: I'm lazy to think of coming up with anything new. FACT: I just want to eat abalone porridge again! Whose ABS are ALONE ?

Porridge made premium with generous cuts of A-BA-LO-NEE...

Have you tried fresh or canned abalone ? How do you like it ? How will you do it differently in your dishes ?

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