Abalone, specifically Ezo-Abalone, can be found throughout the coast of Aomori prefecture. Abalone caught in Oma is especially appreciated for its quality and as such it is high priced.
Though slightly smaller than average abalones at around 10 cm (3.9 in) in length, they are meaty, tender, and have an excellent crunchy texture. Due to the cold climate in Aomori, it generally takes seven to eight years for an abalone to mature, growing only one to two centimeters a year.
Dried abalone has long been made into a celebratory item known as “noshi-awabi.” Considered to be a longevity medicine, the dried abalone was often presented as ceremonial gifts, decoration, and were carried by samurai warriors because of the strong association with elongating life. Noshi-awabi has changed into the custom of decorating gifts with “noshi,” a ceremonial piece of folded paper, often printed directly on a wrapping paper.
Abalone can be eaten fresh as sashimi, steamed in sake, or grilled like a steak. In Hachinohe, it is also cooked in an exquisite, ceremonial dish called “ichigoni,” which is a soy sauce based broth with abalone and sea urchin. Ichigoni is an essential dish in special celebrations such as the new year.
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Local Dish Using Abalone
Ichigoni Urchin Soup
“Ichigoni” is a type of soup made with sea urchin and abalone in a seafood broth. It is a local specialty of Hashikami town in Aomori prefecture.