One of the reasons for its price is that it is rare. It does not grow everywhere in the world, only certain lucky shores contain these precious babies. The dramatically high cost of abalone comes from its rarity and the difficulty experienced in obtaining it. It is a kind of sea snail, and each one must be collected by hand from the ocean.
The cost is also driven by the luxury label attached to it, such as Wagyu beef or caviar. Dishes prepared with this distinguished mollusk can cost real fortunes in Japan, where it is known as the “sea truffle”. The Abalone Underworld is run by large, well-organized Chinese criminal groups in collaboration with local street gangs. The fact that abalone shells are quite heavy only exacerbates the problem, since one kilo caught translates to approximately 250 grams of meat.
The trade in abalone is thought to be the most criminalized wildlife trade in Africa and is fraught with complex socio-cultural problems. Despite its importance, many have compared abalone as comparable to chewing gum in terms of texture, with the flavor of scallops. As demand has skyrocketed, abalone has been called “white gold”, due to the high prices they demand, as well as the color of their pearl under the flesh. The first South African export of abalone was recorded in 1953, indicating the long history of the abalone trade between South Africa and Asia.
Reportedly, abalone tastes delicious, and the consistency and texture are similar to those of squid, only on a larger scale. Unfortunately, many of these countries are also plagued by illegal fishing (poaching) for abalone. Therefore, if people feel rich and their income increases year after year, they are more inclined to splurge and ask for good abalone. You can taste the delicacy of abalone all over the United States, even in places where you don't fish.
Both fresh and dried abalone are considered a delicacy, especially in Hong Kong Cantonese cuisine. The value of abalone comes from both its delicious flesh and its polished shell, a beautiful iridescent blue shell of mother of pearl.