If you’ve never seen abalone, celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern will show you some on a Hawaiian farm on his Travel Channel show airing Monday. But you can also see that farm in person -- and sample the shellfish -- if you're visiting the Big Island.
Abalone is a popular food among Asians, said Hiroshi Arai of Big Island Abalone, who's featured on the show, but many people have yet to try it.
Arai, the company’s chief executive, said about 4 million of the shellfish are being raised just south of Kona International Airport. Visitors are invited to stop by for a tour and a taste.
The abalone are grown in 450 tanks filled with cold seawater pumped from 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Guests learn that abalone are fed a blend of algae to give them the desired flavor and texture.
After the tours, visitors are encouraged to try freshly grilled abalone, which is often served with butter and a dash of soy sauce.
“It’s very popular in Japanese and Chinese restaurants,” Arai said.
Guided tours are offered at noon Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. They cost $12 per person. Children 8 and younger are admitted free. Reservations are required. Call (866) 509-1144 or (808) 334-0034.
Cans of the seafood, marketed as Kona Abalone, are sold at the farm, at 73-357 Makako Bay Drive, Kailua-Kona, and in specialty stores on various Hawaiian islands.
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