Pacific Palate – Abalone

Img_2428 This week on Pacific Palate, BC abalone returns to Vancouver restaurants…but this time around it’s farmed abalone.  C Restaurant hosted a magnificient lunch to introduce this farmed product to a gathering of the media.  Executive chef Rob Clark and chef de cuisine Rob Belcham were very excited to be able to offer this mollusk, as BC abalone of any sort has been banned from harvest for the past 16 years because of dwindling supply.

Img_2410 These shells were being prepared to hold an appetizer dish of a light salad laced with strips of abalone and served with an ‘abalone Caesar’ cocktail.  The shells are beautiful, but they all have to be gathered up and returned to the farmer, under the strict harvest regulations set by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  They don’t want empty shells from farmed abalone out there in case some unscrupulous poacher tries to stuff them with illegally poached meat.  The black market is still a huge problem on the coast.

Img_2418 The abalone farm is on land in Bamfield, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.  It’s called the Bamfield Huu-Ay-Aht Community Abalone Project.  It brings together the Huu-Ay-Aht First Nations, the Bamfield Community School Association, and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. 

Img_2419 I think this was my favourite dish at lunch the other day.  Abalone sashimi, served on top of side stripe shrimp with shaved salmon candy.  Farmed abalone aren’t cheap…C Restaurant can expect to pay about $50 a pound wholesale…which means you probably wouldn’t want to order a pound of them in the restaurant, but have them served with other dishes like the ones we had at lunch.

Img_2426 This is a grilled BC Pinto Abalone with crisp pork belly, confit potato, and truffle jus.

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