How to prepare molluscs

Abalone

  1. The guts must be removed as soon as the abalone is dead.
  2. Remove abalone flesh from the shell by sliding a short-bladed knife around the edge, between the flesh and the shell, cutting the flesh from the shell.
  3. Pull the flesh out of the shell.
  4. Slice the guts from the flesh and discard.

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Optional:

  • Using a small clean scrubbing brush or clean pot scourer, scrub the mucus off the skirt (black or green fringe) for a more attractive appearance.
  • Trim the skirt.

Tenderising

Abalones often need to be tenderised before further preparation. Any, or a combination, of the following steps can be taken.

  • Beating
  • Cut the flesh horizontally into 2–5 mm slices.
  • Beat the layered abalone firmly with a smooth-surfaced mallet until the muscle relaxes and becomes supple.

    Optional: Place sheets of sturdy plastic between the flesh slices before beating.

  • Mincing
  • Mincing will also help tenderise the abalone but use of this method will depend on the end presentation desired.

Cooking method

The way abalone is cooked will affect its tenderness. It can be cooked for a long period at a low temperature or for a very short period at a high temperature:

  • slow cook: up to six hours at about 92–95°C in water or a stock
  • fast cook: sliced very thinly (1–2 mm) and stir-fried for five seconds

Alternatively, abalone can be thinly sliced and eaten raw.

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Mussels

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1. Remove the beard and byssus from the shell by pulling sharply. Cutting off the byssal threads could leave some inside the shell and therefore is not recommended.

2. If you are opening mussels before cooking, hold the mussel on its side, insert a slender knife between the shells and cut the muscle which holds the mussel to the shell.

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3. Once open, slide a knife under the mussel on one side of the shell and lift so that the meat falls into the other shell. Discard one shell.

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4. With green mussels, using the blade of the knife, gently lift off the rubbery ring surrounding the mussel. This ring is chewy and rarely eaten. Replace the mussel in the shell for serving.

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If the mussel has been steamed open, the ring will automatically stay behind in the shell.

Similar techniques can be used to prepare other bivalve molluscs such as pipis.

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Oysters

Lay the oyster with the flatter shell up. Insert an oyster shucker close to the hinge of the shell. Wiggle the tip of the shucker until you find the connective muscle. In pacific and native oysters, the muscle is located on one side, a little away from the hinge. It is easier although not preferable to insert the shucker or a knife from the end of the oyster opposite the hinge.

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Twist the knife to disconnect the muscle and prise the shell open. Discard the top (flatter) shell. Take care not to lose any of the delicious liquor.

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The oyster flesh is often turned over to display its other side, which many consider to be more attractive.

To do this, snip the abductor muscle from under the oyster on the bottom shell, releasing oyster from shell

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Place the oyster knife against the underside of the oyster and gently roll the oyster over in the shell

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Scallops

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1. shuck the scallop by a method similar to that used for oysters.

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2. rinse the scallop.

3. loosen the adhering muscle from the bottom shell by carefully sliding the knife under it.

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4. pull away the fringe-like membrane (skirt) and the dark intestinal organs retaining the white muscle and roe. The skirt can be used for a stock.

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5. wash thoroughly but quickly and return to a clean shell if desired.

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Tip:

Never allow scallops to sit in water as the flesh absorbs liquid very easily. This dilutes the flavour and softens the texture.

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