A Chef’s Perspective
Patrice Repellin (Koots Salle à Manger, Melbourne, Australia)
Although I was familiar with abalone, I had never cooked with it. My cooking style is modern French but I was looking for a new ingredient or cooking idea that would give me a creative edge and allow me to explore more local produce.
I understood that abalone, although well known in Australia as an Asian delicacy, was not a common ingredient in any western restaurants, so this encouraged me even more to pursue my idea. As a well known seafood in Australia, I thought it would be easy to source, but this was not the case as it is mostly exported to Asia.
I was then introduced to Ausab Australian Frozen Greenlip Abalone. Farmed abalone is generally smaller than the same species from the wild, and I found it more tender in texture.
There are many myths about abalone and how difficult it is to prepare and cook. But, my experience was the opposite. Indeed, I have been delighted with its versatility and ease of preparation, as well as its general appearance on the plate. I have also found that Ausab Australian Abalone lends itself to a variety of cooking styles and techniques.
It has certainly provided me with the creative advantage I was looking for, to the extent where it became my restaurant's signature dish for an extended period. I still use abalone on the menu regularly and have prepared it in a variety of ways including tempura, slow-cooked whole in shell, sashimi and sous-vide style.
My slow-cooked dish was featured in the Age newspaper and provided me with some good publicity that I may not have attracted by simply using mainstream ingredients.