The winter storms generated by El Niño this year have put a damper on fishing of late. Adding insult to injury has been the outbreak of domaic acid that stopped the crab season in its tracks, leaving fisherman and fish lovers alike hungry and bewildered. Fear not! Renowned local fishmonger Hans Haveman of H & H Fresh Fish Company in Santa Cruz is now offering fresh, local, and sustainable abalone medallions to shoppers at the Aptos and MPC farmers markets as well as elsewhere.
So why can we eat abalone but not crab?
“Abalone is not a filter feeder like shellfish,” Haveman explained. “Their diet consists mainly of kelp, which is harvested daily and then fed to the abalone in tanks at Davenport Landing. It’s pretty amazing that something this good is local as well as sustainable.”
The American Abalone Company in Davenport raises the abalone in tanks that are supplied with fresh seawater that’s pumped in from the ocean. These mollusks are slow growers, adding only about one inch per year to their size. “The abalone medallions we sell are about 3 inches or so and are very fresh. In fact they’ve never been frozen. They’re tenderized and ready to eat, straight from the vacuum-packed pouch, and there are 4 medallions to a pouch. They’re delicious raw or lightly sautéed.”
The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch rates domestically farmed red abalone as a “Best Choice”— the highest-ranking possible — meaning that this method of farming abalone is sustainable. And that makes the great tasting seafood taste even better.