Cooking with Alison

Best Chinese Abalone Recipe (Slow Cooker)

In Appetizers, Hors D'oeuvres, Snacks, Asian, Seafood on February 12, 2015 at am

Cooking with Alison’s Mom (Part 7)

Abalone is a luxury shellfish that is often served at Chinese weddings and other celebrations. Although preparation of abalone starts several days in advance, it is surprisingly easy to make, as long as you have a slow cooker. In fact, I like my mom’s abalone much much more than the ones I’ve had in high-end Chinese restaurants. I’ve shared her recipe below, just in time for Chinese New Year.



Small to medium sized dried abalone soaking in fresh water.



The bottom layer in the slow cooker consists of pork ribs.


The middle layer consists of the whole abalone.



The top layer consists of skin-on chicken pieces.


Best Chinese Abalone Recipe 

This recipe makes enough to serve a large crowd, especially if you decide to serve the abalone sliced. You will need a large slow cooker to make this dish. Note that this dish needs to be started several days in advance, so plan accordingly

12 to 16 small to medium sized dried, whole abalone (Note: If you are using large sized abalone, you will need to start the process several days earlier and you will need to increase the cooking time significantly.)

2 pounds (approx.) pork ribs, unseasoned

2 pounds (approx.) chicken drum sticks, unseasoned (Note: You could substitute this with other chicken pieces, but whichever parts you use must have the skin-on; the fat from the skin is pertinent to making this dish delicious.)

oyster sauce

Place the dried abalone in a large bowl with more than enough cool water to submerse them. Leave them, covered, overnight in the refrigerator. Discard the water. Then vigorously scrub off any whitish or greyish residue from the surface of the abalone under cool running water. If necessary, you could use a small knife to scrape the residue off of the abalone. Tear off any breathing ducts that you may find and discard them. Then place the abalone in a clean bowl with just enough fresh cool water to keep them submersed. But keep in mind that the abalone will double in size and will need to remain completely submersed in water. So you don’t want to have too much water and you don’t want to have too little of it, either. Leave the abalone in this water, covered, in the refrigerator for three days. (Note: If you’re using large sized abalone, soak it in this water for 7 days, without changing the water.) It is very important to cover the container so that the abalone don’t soak up any unpleasant odors from the fridge. It is also important that you keep the water that the abalone is soaking in. You will need that to make the sauce. Most importantly, do NOT add any salt or seasonings until after the abalone have finished cooking; otherwise, the abalone will shrink in size.

Place the pork ribs in a pot of water and bring to boil over high heat. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat and allow it to gently boil for 10 minutes. This will bring foam and residue to the surface of the water. Dump the water down the drain and rinse off the pork ribs under cool running water. Then arrange the pork ribs so that they cover the bottom of the slower cooker crock pot. Then place the abalone in a single layer on top of the pork ribs. Gently pour the water that the abalone was soaking in into the crock pot. Lastly, place the skin-on chicken pieces in a single layer on top of the abalone.

Place the lid on the slow cooker, turn it on, and set it to cook at medium heat until it comes to a boil. This will take approximately 2 hours. Then turn the heat up to high and cook for 6 to 8 more hours (depending on the size and thickness of your abalone). Turn the slow cooker off and allow the abalone to cool completely in the crock pot. Once it has cooled, use a tooth pick to test the softness of the abalone. If it is not soft enough, then turn the slow cooker back up to high heat and cook for up to 6 to 8 more hours or until the abalone has reached your preferred texture. Test the texture every few hours. Most people prefer abalone to be soft, but still chewy. (Note: If you are making this dish for a dinner party, I suggest cooking it the day before you plan to serve it. That way, if the first 6 to 8 hours are enough, then you simply need to reheat it and make the sauce just prior to serving on the day of your dinner party. If you need to cook it for an additional 6 to 8 hours, you can cook it again the day of your event and time it to be ready at dinner time.)

Once the abalone is cooked to your liking, discard the chicken and pork, and place the abalone to a plate. Transfer the liquid from the crock pot to a heavy bottomed sauce pot and bring it to a boil, covered, over medium to medium-high heat. While the sauce is coming to a boil, you may slice the abalone thinly if desired; we prefer to serve it whole. Add oyster sauce to the pot to taste  (I recommend starting with 2 teaspoons). When the flavour of the sauce is to your liking, add the abalone (whole or sliced) and stir until it is heated through. Dish it out and serve immediately.

  1. If serving this for Chinese New Year, be sure to add barely-wilted lettuce to the bottom of the plate. Not only is the lettuce and oyster sauce delicious, it also symbolizes “prosperity” 🙂
    Gung Hai Fat Choy; Sun Neen Fy-Lok!

  2. Looks delicious! Any tips on how to make this using frozen abalones? I have 10 small ones in their shells and I’m looking for a way to make them yummy! Thanks!

    • Hi Jenn,
      I’m so sorry that I took so long to reply! I haven’t worked with frozen, fresh abalones before, but I suspect that you would cook them the same way, minus the soaking steps. Also, I would guess that you wouldn’t need to cook it as long to soften it. Since they’re still in the shells, you could grill them or bake them, instead of slow cooking them. Let me know what you end up doing! I’ve noticed the frozen ones too and have been curious to try it 🙂

  3. Hi.. Can I ask if I can add Chinese ham on top of the rib to cook together?

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