An Introduction to Abalone

What is Abalone?

This may seem like a simple question to many but abalone is a rare delicacy that some have not even had the luxury to taste! It is the most expensive shellfish and is mostly eaten during special occasions and cultural celebrations. This large mollusk takes years to fully mature and was nearly driven to extinction due to overfishing! Luckily, due to harvesting restrictions and preservation efforts these resilient creatures are now growing in population.

With its rich, meaty texture and flavorful taste, it is no surprise that people go wild for abalone (especially when they are wild-caught). With beautiful iridescent shells, wild abalone is no doubt one of many treasures of the ocean!

Mostly found in cold, nutrient-dense waters, wild abalone is hand-harvested by divers off the coast of Mexico, Australia, South Africa, Japan, and New Zealand! Depending on their ecosystem, abalone feed on different types of algae which causes them to vary in appearance, taste, and texture.

Types of Wild Abalone

Did you know there are about 15 different types of abalone? Some characterized by their color therefore commonly named red, green, black, pink, and white abalone. As well as named after the regions they are found in like Galapagos, South African, or Northern abalone. 

Although some may not be eaten due to their rarity, many of the different types of wild-caught abalone are protected and regulated carefully so the species are not depleted. 

We hand-harvest our Calmex Wild Abalone mostly from the government-regulated coasts of Mexico and Australia. We always adhere to harvesting restrictions to be sure not to contribute to the endangerment of these delicate animals. Our professional divers pick only 5% of matured abalone per season. On average, that is typically only 5 abalones per every 100 available in the regulated fishing area. There is a small window of when harvesting season begins and we collect only fully grown abalone from certified fishing zones. 

Calmex Wild-Caught Mexican Abalone Being Prepared in the Cannery

Nutritional Value of Abalone

While abalone is more common in certain households, abalone is full of health benefits that many do not know about. In Asian cultures abalone is a prized item to promote healthy eyes and beautiful skin due to its high amount of collagen. Also full of protein and very low in calories it is not only a luxury item but an ideal health snack. This powerful protein also helps detox the liver while supporting a fast metabolism. Of course, it is also rich in:

  • Omega 3 and 9 fatty acids to promote healthy blood circulation and heart. 
  • Glycosaminoglycans (GAG) sounds like a scary word but is a naturally occurring component of abalone meat and promotes healthy joints and connective tissues, lessens joint pain and prevents arthritis. 
  • Antioxidants such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Selenium are contained in abalone and counteract against the effects of eating processed foods. The antioxidant effects of this powerful shellfish can also prevent liver dysfunction due to alcohol consumption.
  • Other trace elements and minerals help with healthy eye function!
Calmex Wild-Caught Abalone Paired with Shiitake

Why Is Abalone the Most Expensive Shellfish?

One reason for its pricing is due to its rarity. Abalones do not grow in every part of the ocean where there is a shoreline. They thrive in cold, nutrient-rich waters where kelp forests are abundant and reefs are healthy. Even then, with rising ocean temperatures mortality rates of abalone have increased since 2018. (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-23746-z) With supply and demand, the rarer the product the more exclusive it becomes! 

One of Our Fishermen Returning from Harvesting Wild Abalone

Not only is wild abalone scarce, harvesting them takes more time and effort than most seafood that is caught with a large net. Our divers are careful harvesting wild abalone from the reefs it has “glued” itself onto not to hurt the meat in the process. It takes a lot of skill to collect and carry it back to the boat as well as shucking skills our divers have years of experience in.

The Significance of Abalone and Culture

Abalone has been consumed by humans for more than 5,000 years! It found its way into the emperor’s cuisines in the 17th century and is still considered one of eight culinary treasures of the ocean. In fact, the ancient Chinese gold currency, the ingot, has a very similar shape to abalone therefore in Asian culture is often correlated with gold and eaten during Chinese New Year for good luck! Nutritious food has always been the foundation for good health and longevity and abalone has come a long way since then! Today, this “sea treasure” is a must-have delicacy for special occasions and family gatherings. 

Gold Ingots

We hope this blog introduction helps answer any questions you have about our abalone and our process! May you think of Calmex Wild Abalone when celebrating your momentous occasions no matter how big or small. 

Calmex Wild Abalone Compared to a Gold Ingot
https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/freshly-explained-why-abalone-so-expensive
https://www.thespruceeats.com/about-abalone-2215715