New Zealanders may take it for granted sometimes, but one of the reasons New Zealand is a foodie's paradise is that in many parts of the country anyone can still go down to the beach and collect fresh seafood. Paua (the Maori word for abalone) is a popular delicacy, especially because the sale of wild Paua is prohibited and recreational free divers are limited to collecting 10 per day, strictly without the use of scuba equipment (that’s cheating). Nothing like working up an appetite by free-diving! Sadly, undersized Pauas are often poached and smuggled out to be sold on the lucrative international black market. Its colourful iridescent shells can often be found polished up in gift shops or made into jewellery.
How to Prepare Paua
Once you’ve pulled and tugged it out of its shell, you’ll want to rest it for about 24 hours in a cool spot. Then the most popular way to prepare it is either to mince it make it into fritters, or bash it (with a meat tenderizer or the side of a hammer) and slice it as thinly as possible. For the latter, sauté onions, garlic and ginger until soft and fragrant and set aside. Then in a very hot pan with a bit of oil, sear the paua slices very briefly and add the onion mixture back in along with a dollop of sweet chilli sauce. If you’re brave and confident that the paua is absolutely fresh, you can slice and eat as sashimi, along with a side of soy sauce and wasabi – yum!
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