By Deems Tsutakawa
For The North American Post
There was a time when one could down to a “greasy spoon café” in the International District of Seattle. Upon ordering a plate of ginger beef with some Chinese broccoli, you would get a free bowl of soup that contained several large pieces of abalone.
The tasty mollusk is a true delicacy enjoyed by people around the world and traditionally plentiful along the Pacific Coast of both North and South Americas. As it was given away for free, we did not realize how special of a treat we were enjoying at the time. Although abalone farming has been practiced for several decades, it is only recently that high quality low cost manufacturing has come about.
The coastal town of San Pedro, Calif., gained notoriety for being the largest fishing port on the West Coast during the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. There is, in fact, bronze fisherman and memorial wall located on the harbor to commemorate the rich history.
One year Jean and I drove from Los Angeles to San Pedro only to find that the largest and most famous seafood restaurant was closed that day. On the way back to our hotel at the Terranea Resort we found a small, family owned Mexican Restaurant named Pina’s.
As good fortune would have it, we ordered the abalone cocktail made with fresh tomatoes, limes, spices and lots of the fresh mollusks. Please note that our server did not let me order anything else, which surprised me at first. That food orgy turned out to be a meal unto itself with more abalone than I have ever seen before in my entire seafood-eating life.
We had to catch a flight home out of LAX the next day, and although San Pedro was in the wrong direction, we hit it up again before heading home.
Deems Tsutakawa is a local Sansei musician. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.