Where do you buy your Korean cooking ingredients?
Abalones (jeonbok) are marine snails. The shells of abalones are low and flat, and inside is a thick layer of nacre (mother-of-pearl), which has been used in Korean lacquerware and furniture for centuries.
The flesh is considered a delicacy in Korea, raw or cooked. Good quality, fresh live abalone can be expensive and hard to find. Frozen abalone is more readily available and can even be found in Korean grocery stores in North America. In Korea, live abalone is farmed and also caught wild by divers (including the famous haenyo of Jeju island), and in my experience the best abalone for eating is fresh, live, and wild caught.
Frozen abalone usually have the shells and intestines removed already, although the intestines of fresh abalone are not only edible but totally delicious.
Here’s frozen abalone, thawed out. You see a lot of grit here, so it needs to be scrubbed off with a clean bush or sponge.
Here’s the same abalone, scrubbed. See how clean it looks? Very fresh!
This is a live abalone, it needs to be cleaned and removed from the shell before we can eat it.
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