KCBS Foodie Chap Podcast:
Brad Buckley is an abalone farmer at The Abalone Farm, located in Cayucos on one of the most beautiful coastal stretches of California not too far from Paso Robles. He was raised on a small farm in Mississippi helping his family grow vegetables and cotton. He received a Masters degree in Public Policy and Administration at Mississippi State University and planned to pursue a career in the public sector. After visiting California and falling in love with the scenery, weather, and lifestyle, he relocated to San Luis Obispo in 1987. While waiting for a government job opening, he took a production laborer position at The Abalone Farm. Brad thought he would keep the interesting and unique job at the farm for a limited time, but he took great interest in what the farm was working to accomplish; to preserve a part of California’s food culture, the Red Abalone. Almost a quarter of a century later, sorry Brad, he is still at the farm where he has held various positions in both production and administration.
“Being an Abalone Farmer is about preserving part
of the food culture here in California.”
– Brad Buckley, Abalone Farmer
The Abalone Farm has grown to become the largest producer of cultured Red Abalone in the country and is recognized world wide as a leader in the industry. The farm’s production was exported primarily to Asia in the ’80’s while only a small percentage was sold into the domestic market. Brad has seen a dramatic reversal of this trend as restrictions were imposed on wild catch and public awareness of sustainability and ocean-friendly choices has increased. The Abalone Farm markets over 75% of its abalone production in the U.S. under the brand name ‘Ocean Rose’.
Abalone for many years was exported to Japan where it was devoured in excess by the rich, regarded as a much loved delicacy. More recently the farm has focused on supplying California restaurants. Cooking abalone can easily become a shambolic experience but not when Brad is at the stove. We talked abalone and ate a little too for our recent Foodie Chap chat.
P.S. Ooh and before I forget The Abalone Farm’s abalone will be enjoyed by visitors at the upcoming 6th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine event from April 4th – 8th. See you there!
Pebble Beach Food & Wine
5 Tasty Questions with Abalone Farmer Brad Buckley
1) What is being an Abalone Farmer all about?
It is about preserving apart of the food culture here in California.
2) What is your favorite abalone dish?
My favorite abalone dish is tenderized abalone grilled with a little olive oil and lemon.
3) If not an abalone farmer in a second life what would you be?
I’d be an abalone diver!
4) It’s midnight I go to your fridge what will I find?
You’re always going to find eggs, lemon, and Panko in the cabinet.
5) Last super who will be there and what will you eat?
Julia Child, and Cher and we will have abalone pot pie and classic pan fried abalone steak.
Classic Pan Fried Abalone Steak
– Abalone steaks
– Corn starch
– Whole egg or egg whites
– Clarified butter
– Fresh lemon slices
In a food processor blend a 50/50 mixture of panko and corn starch. Beat egg until slightly foamy. Dip abalone steaks in egg then panko mixture to evenly coat both sides. Place the steaks on a tray and allow to rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. This helps to promote even cooking and a crispy texture. Hint: It is important to pre-heat the skillet. Pour clarified butter into the pre-heated skillet to cover the bottom. If you donít have clarified butter use a mixture of 2/3 cooking oil and 1/3 whole butter. Place enough abalone to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium/high heat until browned; about 60- 90 seconds each side. Remove from the skillet and squeeze fresh lemon juice over steaks. Serve immediately or place on warming tray.
2 T Butter
1 T Capers
a dash of white wine
1 T fresh lemon juice
Adjust heat to Low. Wipe skillet clean with a paper towel. Melt butter, add capers and lightly sautÈ for about 1 minute. Add lemon juice and white wine. Be careful as the sauce can scorch quickly. Spoon sauce over abalone steaks.
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