The South Korean female sea divers known as haenyeo comb the beds of the East China Sea for conch, abalone and uni—prized items on western menus. New York-based, Korean-American chef David Chang of Momofuku restaurant fame explains the unique characteristics of these deep-sea delicacies. Click here for Chang's provocative recipes using these ingredients.
Chang says: “Conch to me tastes sweet, and I’ve actually only had it in the Caribbean, where they serve it in stews or as fritters––but its use is limited by access to the ocean. If you can't see the ocean, don't eat the conch! It's delicious raw, and it's also delicious cooked.”
Abalone (sea snails)
Chang says: “Abalone shell resembles lacquered pearl, which is absolutely beautiful—sometimes we’ll use the shell as an actual dish at Momofuku. People would explore abalone more in cooking if it wasn’t as expensive as it is. If you cook it, it can have the texture of cooked octopus—very nice and soft.”
Uni (sea urchin)
Chang says: “Uni from the sea and not dipped in a chloride solution is one of the great pleasures in life. The best way I have had it is picking it straight from the water off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, taking a pair of scissors, cracking it open and eating it right there.”