Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 15, 2020 - 26

FOOD & DRINK
A NEW DAY
FOR ABALONE
THE ENDANGERED MOLLUSK GETS A SECOND CHANCE TO THRIVE,
THANKS TO AQUA FARMERS ON CALIFORNIA'S CENTRAL COAST
R
ed abalone is one of the West Coast's true aquatic
treasures, adored by sea otters and humans alike. The
mollusk's iridescent shell cradles exquisitely delicious
meat prized for its delicate flavor and silky texture.
The largest and most coveted variety, red abalone was once
plentiful in California's coastal waters, where the crustaceans
could be found clinging to rocks by the thousands. During World
War II, California abalone was so easy to come by that it was
canned and shipped overseas to feed American soldiers, but by
the 1970s, over-fishing had caused its population to plummet. In
the 1980s and `90s, a disease called " withering syndrome " took
a devastating toll on the state's wild abalone, and environmental
impacts caused their main food source-kelp-to disappear.
The abalone began to starve in huge numbers, prompting a ban
on commercial abalone fishing in 1997. Recreational abalone
diving continued until 2017, when the California Fish and Game
Commission deemed it off limits. The ban is set to continue
through the spring of 2021.
Luckily, this didn't diminish the determination of local aquaculturists,
who developed techniques to sustainably farm red abalone on the
California coast. One of the top purveyors is American Abalone
Farms, located in Davenport, inside the Monterey Bay National
Marine Sanctuary. Along with live and shelled red abalone, the farm
ships oysters, sea urchin and Dungeness crab around the world.
" American Abalone Farms provides Jordan with perfectly sized
abalone year-round, fed entirely on harvested wild local kelp, "
26
says Jordan Winery Executive Chef Todd Knoll. " We purchase
them at just under three ounces, with shells-an optimal size for a
luxurious focal point on the plate. "
Knoll likes to cook abalone low and slow, so the meat is
approachably soft, but still has some textural bite to it. " For a red
abalone carpaccio, the shelled abalone are cooked sous vide for
six hours at 180 degrees with Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil,
estate honey, ponzu and fennel pollen from our garden, " he says.
" Then, the abalone are chilled and frozen to allow for careful,
thin slicing. Layered with Périgord truffle, the dish is finished
with a brush of Meyer lemon-infused olive oil and limu seaweed
collected from the Hawaiian island of Molokai. "
He also showcases red abalone in tiradito, a flavorful Peruvian dish
similar to ceviche, accented with cilantro, spicy serrano peppers
and makrut lime juice. For a creative take on ahi tuna poke, Knoll
gently poaches abalone with chardonnay, soy sauce, ginger, and
kombu, then combines the meat with apples, sea beans and briny
olives. He'll sometimes use both poaching and searing techniques
to impart different flavors and textures to the abalone.
Knoll hopes that, one day, the population will rebound and
Sonoma's brave freedivers are once again permitted to collect
wild abalone along the rugged North Coast. Until that day,
he's grateful for the sustainably farmed delicacies provided
by California's skilled abalone farmers. " Abalone aquaculture
has been extremely successful, " he says. " Farmed 'reds' are an
excellent and sustainable alternative. "

Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 15, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jordan Wine Country Table - Vol. 15, 2020

Table of Contents
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