Abalone, Chilli and Lime Crackers


200g abalone meat

100ml water

300g tapioca starch

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp ground white pepper

2g chilli powder

4g makrut lime leaf powder

2 tsp peanut oil, plus extra for frying

An abalone innovation, created by World Seafood Champion John McFadden. Try this new take on the prawn cracker using Yumbah Abalone, chilli and lime.

Prepare the abalone

Place the abalone meat and water in a food processor or blender, and blend to form a smooth abalone paste.

Put the tapioca starch in a large mixing bowl, then add the abalone paste, 2 teaspoons of peanut oil and the spices and seasonings. Make sure the bowl is large enough as tapioca starch is very light and can drop out from the bowl easily.

Continue mixing all the ingredients until the starch has been incorporated thoroughly with the abalone meat to form a stiff dough.

Shape the thick dough into a log. Roll it in plastic to form a sausage roll shape and tie each end. The log should be about the size of the container you use to steam it – make sure it is not too big, so that it is able to be sliced using a mandolin later.

Steam the cracker log

Place the log of uncooked dough in a steamer and steam it for 70 minutes. It is harmless if you steam it for longer to ensure it is fully cooked. The uncooked portion of the crackers will not expand fully during deep-frying.

Remove the log of abalone paste from heat, and let it cool before removing it from the steamer. Next, transfer it to the refrigerator overnight. The dough will become much harder after being refrigerated, making it easier to slice into thin pieces.

Dry the crackers

Cut the block of hardened dough into thin slices with a sharp knife or mandoline, which is easier and produces slices of equal thickness each time.

The abalone crackers should be very thin, about 2mm – just shy of being fully translucent.

Place the abalone chips under the sun in single layers to sun-dry until thoroughly dry, which may take half a day or longer. Flip the crackers occasionally to ensure they are exposed to the sun on both sides. Store half-dried crackers in the refrigerator and continue drying on a sunny day if the weather is not good.

Alternatively, dry them in a food dehydrator at 40°C/108°F for four hours.

When the abalone chips are dry, the edge will curl up and be brittle.

Deep-fry the crackers

Place some peanut oil – or other vegetable oil with a neutral flavour and a high smoke point – into a deep fryer. You need to use enough oil to deep-fry the crackers to provide enough space for them to expand while frying.

Heat the oil to about 180°C/355°F.

Place the uncooked abalone crackers into the hot oil carefully, to avoid the oil splashing.

The crackers will expand to several times larger than the original within a few seconds, much like making popcorn.

Fish out the abalone crackers with a spider ladle. Drain them on paper towels or kitchen paper to remove the excess oil.

© John McFadden 2023

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