MW Mobile Blog

For friends, family and the random search engine visitor. This blog started as an experiment in mobile blogging from my Palm TREO 600, 700, Prē, HTC Evo, Samsung 5, Pixel 3, Pixel 6 Pro. Now it serves as a simple repository of favorite activities. Expect bad golf, good fishing, great sailing, eating, drinking, adventure travel, occasional politics and anything else I find interesting along the way including, but not limited to, any of the labels listed here...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Creamed Paua a la Gualala

Creamed Paua a la Gualala 
Last year my moribund little Facebook Abalone Page was discovered by the NZ and Tasmania Maori community. As I said then:
"I have this little FB page that I set up 2-3 years ago to post occasional pictures, videos and links about a favorite hobby - abalone diving. It's really just for the benefit of my dive buddies, friends and family. I've always had about 30-40 "likes", picking up another every now and then... Last week this happened. The page goes from 44 likes to 1,700 likes and from 6 impressions to 50,000 in one week thanks to an influx of visitors from down under! Not sure what to make of this. But now I am feeling like I need to entertain you all in some way. I won't be diving again for a couple of weeks. Maybe I'll post some recipes or something."
The common thread - we love picking and eating paua (aka abalone). Especially eating. Among the comments left by my new FB friends, I found many references to Creamed Paua as a favorite dish. Here's a sample suggestion from one visitor:

"Creamed paua (black foot abalone) picked from Ruapuke New Zealand cooked two ways. Savoury - fried with onions add full cream and flour and water to thicken. Sweet (my favorite) same recipe as savoury adding in a can of pineapple chunks. How do you eat yours?" - Rine Riney Meany
This was a new discovery. I'm always looking for new preparations for my favorite sea slug, and determined to give it a try.

Last weekend my brother and I picked our limit from a cove near Gualala, California:


 No time like the present to try out a new recipe.

First step, clean up the catch. After popping from the shells, the abs are sliced into larger steaks and smaller pieces trimmed for sashimi and ceviche'.

In the past, we discarded the trimmed pieces of black lip and darker meat around the foot. There is nothing wrong with that meat. it's just less aesthetically pleasing than the sliced and trimmed white meat steaks. I always thought throwing those scraps away to be wasteful, but didn't know what to do with them.  This time they're going into the creamed paua.

Next, research a range of recipe sources for this dish. We checked out Puna's Nannys, Cooks Classic, Nik's Kitchen, Uncle Jay, and, of course, our FB commenters.

Let's roll.

Basic ingredients are butter, onion, garlic, milk, salt, pepper, corn starch or flour for thickening and, of course, paua. I'm adding ginger, coconut milk, dry sherry, and fresh cilantro. Just because.

Every recipe starts with onions sauteed in butter. I added minced garlic and ginger. Ignore that lemon. I didn't use it. 

Some recipes say to caramelize the onions. Some not. I decided "not" and added dry sherry to keep the the onions white and soft.

These paua trimmings and scraps were likely to be tough. Some of the recipes recommended "mincing" the paua. I don't have a mincer but do have a food processor, so in it went...

I ground the paua at a somewhat coarse texture.

Then into the sauteed onions and butter...

Sauteed the paua with onions garlic and sherry for a while...

At this stage, some recipes call for adding milk, some for cream, some for coconut milk. I opted for all three:

While reducing the creamed paua mix over low heat (about an hour), I prepared a pot of white rice. The traditional creamed paua presentation is served with fried bread, but I didn't feel like adding any additional experiments so just went with the rice.

As the cream reduced, I added a little flour to thicken the gravy, but not sure it was needed. The sauce had already reduced nicely. As a last step, I added some chopped fresh cilantro for color and a note of flavor.

Served over a bed of rice, accompanied by a side of abalone ceviche' and nice California chardonnay.

The picture really does not do this dish justice. I probably made enough for 2 to 3 servings, but ate it all myself in one sitting (my wife wasn't interested - her loss). It was really f*****g great.  Make no mistake. It's rich. With butter, cream, and abalone, what's not to like? Just don't forget to take your Lipitor for dessert.

Fresh abalone has a subtle flavor. I was afraid it might be overwhelmed by the coconut milk and cream, but the flavors balanced nicely. In some ways the abalone flavor comes through better than the traditional NorCal breaded and fried steaks.  The coconut and cilantro introduced a hint of sweetness and a Thai-like flavor to the dish that I really enjoyed. I resisted adding any hot chili sauce or peppers but the dish could probably stand up to them if administered with a light hand.

This is Tasmanian / Maori comfort food - filling, satisfying, delicious. To my taste, the texture and presentation invoked a Southern US staple - Biscuits & Gravy.  In fact, if served with traditional fried bread instead of rice, the comparison is even more apt. The flavor is distinctly different of course, but, like Biscuits & Gravy, I could see how growing up on Creamed Paua you would crave eating it your whole life.

Hey...  I had it for the first time a couple days ago and I am craving it again right now.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

2016 Abalone Report Card Nos. 1,2,3 +
Food Fest in Napa Valley

Low tide was at 7:45AM. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife rules say no abalone diving before 8:30. Conditions were more inviting than yesterday, so ...

... we went in as soon as it was legal.

Swells were better, but visibility was poor. I was only shooting with Olympus Stylus Tough (the GoPro having suffered an ignominious end last year), so...  not much in the way of underwater photography this outing.

With flood tide, the breakers started to build again,  so we just picked our limit and got out of the water.

I didn't quite get into position before the self-timer went off
Nothing of size - all between 8" - 9"

For our first outing this year, we were happy.

Beer is always better apres' dive

Abalone diving is exhausting
Usually we're ready for a nap after a dive, beer, and cleaning up.  Not this trip.  A colleague of Harlan noticed on FB that he was in California, pinged him, and arranged for us to join him at "Cochran's Heritage Fire" event:

Two hours later, we're in Napa Valley at the Charles Krug Winery:

Abalone diving in Mendocino County in the morning. Feasting on gourmet grilled meat in Napa County that afternoon.

California living at its finest. 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Abalone Junket

Brother Harlan was arriving in EssEff for a meeting scheduled on Monday. Apparently Westnorthern is moving in on Stanford turf. He arrived early so we could make an abalone run. Picked him up after a late flight into SFO, and drove straight to Sea Ranch.  It's our first dive of the season, so we spent the morning getting the license squared away and equipment checked out. Then off to our favorite cove.

We had high hopes for great ocean conditions in the cove.

This swell forecast from earlier in the week is what we were expecting for the weekend. It didn't turn out that way.

It was a weird day.  The cove would look calm for 5 or 10 minutes then a series of 3 to 6 big breakers would roll into the mouth and break along the full length of the cove.

We spent a couple hours staring at the cove, finally deciding caution was the better part of valor.

The abalone will still be there tomorrow.  Instead, we went for a hike among the redwoods in Gualala River Redwood Park.

Always amazing to walk among the giants.

Found this fresh track in the mud and wondered if it might be a mountain lion...

Upon further review, a coyote or big dog is more likely.

Sorry to see some of our favorite local restaurants closed in Gualala, but remembered Cove Azul...

Seafood Scampi at Cove Azul
Still a good choice.