Monday, April 26, 2010

Paua - Favourite Kaimoana

Paua is the Maori name given to three species of large edible sea snails belonging to the Haliotidae family - known as abalone in the Northern Hemisphere. In New Zealand, the best known of the paua species is Haliotis iris and while it has a beautiful irridescent blue-green shell, in my opinion, the slimy, black 'animal' within would have to be one of the least appetising-looking potential meals I've ever come across.

But looks can be deceiving. Given a thorough bashing to tenderise the flesh and then sliced thinly and barbecued, paua flesh is indeed a delicacy. To Maori, they are a taonga (treasure) and they are sought after both as a food and for their colourful shells, which are often incorporated into carvings (usually to represent eyes) and jewellery. Another favourite way to eat paua is to mince them and make them into fritters. These juicy specimens were caught at Kaikoura and were served at the final meal of the waka wananga I attended recently at Kaikoura's Takahanga Marae.

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