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Abalone

Abalone

Food to Die For - Sn 1/Ep 2Food to Die For - Sn 1/Ep 2

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Guy travels to the southern tip of Tasmania to brave icy cold waters, dangerous ocean currents and shark-infested waters in search of the world’s best culinary delicacy, abalone.

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Transcript

- Tasmania is home to some of the world's wildest and largest waves. And none are more wild than Ship Sterns Bluff, on the southern tip of Tasmania. This spectacular coastline is about as remote and dangerous as it gets. Tasmania is home to the world's largest abalone fishery. It's in these dangerous southern waters that lives the world's best wild abalone. And just like the waves down here, collecting them is not for the faint hearted. The Tasmanian icy waters and pounding relentless swell makes the wild abalone one of the most dangerous ingredients in the world to source. It's right down there. Good day guys, I'm Guy Turland from Bondi Harvest, an indie series. We go in search of the most wonderful ingredients that just happen to be the most dangerous to find. We travel across the globe to meet the people that have made it their life's work to collect the most prized ingredients on the planet. This guy's nuts. Welcome, to Food to Die For. This is what we are here for, Tasmania and these gorgeous abalones. It's own here in Tasmania, the water's cold, it's fresh, it's pristine and it's home to some of the world's finest abalone. This my friends, is the abalone flesh and as a chef, I like to cook it really slow, really tender, and confit it at a low temperature. But there's another way to eat abalone and that is the Candy Heart Abalone. Going for up to $8,000 a kilo. It smells delicious, it's a flavor bomb, but why is it so expensive? The industry here provides a quarter of the world's supply and is worth up to a hundred million dollars. James Polanowski is a veteran abalone diver, who's been in the trade for nearly two decades. James travels the circumference of Tasmania to check out the most remote abalone grounds. The hunt can be treacherous. - Well we're facing all sorts of possibilities of danger, you know, we got super cold water, big swells. There is sharks out there, so be aware. It's what we have to face. - Not the small ones either. - No there is some large ones kicking around and there's more of them because there's large seal colonies close by, so, sharks love seals. - [Guy] So you don't dive near the seals? - Yeah we do, that's where the best abalone are. - [Guy] That's not where we're diving though? - Close by today, super close. - [Guy] All right. Abalone grow all over the world, but it's down here in the icy, southern ocean that they love it the most. Looks green, the vis looks kind of-- - Dark and scary. - [Guy] Yeah, very dark. - Yeah. - [Guy] I'll stay close. - I'll say that. - Yep, we are suiting up. It's looking quite green down there. I'm not worried about what we'll see, I'm worried about what might see us. They always say, it's not the ones you see, it's the ones you don't see, right? - Eight degrees at the moment, so bloody cold, freezing. So I'm wearing a nine mil wetsuit today. - So you've got a nine mil and I've got a three mil on. It's going to be interesting. - [James] Big difference. - Yep. Should have done my research. Any advice for me? Stay close? - Stay close and be aware. Eyes on the back of your head. - I'm about to dive in and I've gotta say, I'm pretty nervous about jumping in the water. Wish me luck. Despite wearing a wetsuit, as soon as I hit the water, every muscle in my body tensed up. James uses an airline to search for the abalone, which live in waters between four to 50 foot deep. We troll along looking for the abalone. James comes across a large patch hiding amongst some kelp. Using a specialized knife and measuring tool, James pries the abalone from the rocks. This takes a lot of skill as the abalone's strong muscle sticks tight to the rocks. Time is of the essence, we want to get our quota and get out. The longer we're down here, the more dangerous it gets. We need to be careful where we swim, to ensure our lines don't get crossed or get cut by the propellors. James has had trouble with the airlines in the past and was lucky to get to the surface without the bends. The current is really strong and we get pushed and pulled around like rag dolls. There are strict rules about how much abalone can be caught and the size of each specimen. Then in the murky distance, James sees a shadow. Looking around, I can't see it. Then there it is. It's time to go. Saw something big down there, something dark. I don't know if it was a seal or a shark but mix that with the cold water, we have to get out now. Especially after a couple of these. Candy Heart Abalone is not actually candied. However, the flavor is sweet and slightly chewy. This comes from a secretive two month drying process resulting in a rich flavorful product considered a true delicacy in Chinese cuisine. We're heading to Me Wah restaurant to see how this incredibly expensive and decadent ingredient is prepared. Me Wah head chef Gordon Tso is a master Cantonese chef with much experience cooking abalone. In this dish, he's using the fresh abalone muscle. With an extremely sharp knife, he slices thin strips of the muscle. The key to cooking abalone is to cook it either really quick or really slow and there's no quicker or hotter way to cook it, than in a really hot wok. It may look simple, but the key is to not overcook this delicate ingredient. How gorgeous is that? So this is the fresh abalone which has been fried through a beautiful sort of stir fry. Mmm. It's tender, it's sweet. It's got hints of the ocean. Amazing. Icy cold oceans, sharks, amazing scary waves. Is abalone food to die for? I don't know, but I'm going back for more.

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