Korean abalones to hit local shelves
SOUTH Korea may be known for its pop idols and beauty products, but when it comes to eating or importing abalone, the country may not be the first on one's list.
However, a Korean supplier is set to change the way restaurants here import its abalone, a delicacy typically enjoyed during Chinese New Year.
International seafood and sushi buffet restaurant, Todai Restaurant at Marina Bay Sands, served up Singapore's first batch of Korean abalone yesterday at an official launch attended by local restaurateurs and the press.
Named after Wando Island in South Korea, the Wando abalone is harvested by Korean company Chungsanbada.
According to its managing director, Ms Wee Ji Yeon, Wando Island is known to have one of the cleanest seas.
The abalone there is generally bigger than those from other regions, including the usual source countries like Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
It also has a higher taurine content. Taurine acid is said to remedy high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and improve liver and heart functions.
Supplied mostly to Japanese restaurants for delicate Japanese dishes such as sauteed abalone, Korean abalone has managed to carve a reputation for itself.
"Prior to this, Korean abalone has been available only in Japan and Korea to cope with the local demand.
"With a stabilised farming system, it is now ready for international distribution," said Ms Wee.
In recent years, Korea has become the world's second-largest producer of farmed abalone, after Australia.
Korean abalone takes four to five years to grow fully, and is fed with kelp and sea mustard. It contains no chemical products nor does it undergo chemical processes, so as to retain its original taste while remaining healthy.
For those who are curious about how the Korean abalone tastes like, Todai Restaurant is holding an Abalone Festival Buffet this month, where diners can enjoy dishes such as Abalone Cocktail, Boiled Abalone in Soy Sauce, Abalone salad and Abalone porridge.
Though the Korean abalone is slightly tougher than those from Mexico or Australia, it retains its delicate taste.
The Japanese-style Boiled Abalone in Soy Sauce combined sweet and spicy flavours with the soft and smooth texture of the abalone to create a fine dish.
Fans of popular Korean abalone porridge would also enjoy the hearty treat, which contains small slices of abalone.
Wando's canned and vacuum-packed abalone will also be sold in supermarkets here later in the year. Prices are unavailable for now.
Prices for Todai Restaurant's Abalone Festival Buffet start at $58++. Visit www.todai.com.sg