A variety of sea snail found along the coastlines of California, Mexico and Japan. The edible adductor muscle is the broad "foot" which the abalone uses to cling to rocks. This tough muscle is pounded to tenderize it before cooking. The largest variety is the red abalone found off the coast of California, which can reach 11 inches across. Available fresh, canned, dried or salted.
Fresh, live abalone should smell sweet, not fishy; and the muscle should move when touched. Choose those that are relatively small.
Refrigerate quickly, and cook within a day of purchase.