Tuesday, November 13, 2007


This is the one and only abalone shell that I own. I got it during a trade fair in SM Megamall a couple of years ago. Abalone shells have a low and open spiral structure, as well as a row of respiratory holes near its outer edge. According to Wikipedia, the innermost layer of the shell is composed of mother-of-pearl, which in many species is highly iridescent, giving rise to a range of strong and changeable colors which make them ideal as ornamental art objects and as decorative inlays such as in guitars and fashion jewelries.

The shell is made of microscopic calcium carbonate tiles stacked like bricks; hence exceptionally strong. When struck, the tiles slide instead of shattering. That is because the clingy protein substance between the layers of tiles absorb the energy of the blow. Material scientists at the University of California, San Diego are studying the tiled structure for insight into stronger ceramic products such as body armor.

The meat of this mollusk is considered a delicacy in certain parts of Latin America (especially Chile), New Zealand, South East Asia, and East Asia (especially in China, Japan, and Korea). In Chinese speaking regions, abalone are commonly known as bao yu, and sometimes forms part of a Chinese banquet, Similar to shark fin soup, it is considered a symbol of wealth and prestige, and is traditionally reserved for special occasions such as weddings and other celebrations. However, commercial farming of abalone has allowed a more abundant supply of this once rare delicacy. I haven't tasted one yet, but would love to one of these days.


posted by Señor Enrique at 7:43 AM


Blogger mimi said...


i collect shells too. kaya parang dagat ang bahay namin.. ^_^

and i love green...

November 13, 2007 9:17 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Wow, beautiful color! I used to think that these shells were artificially colored. Now I know; they're highly iridescent, that' why they give me that impression.

I don't think the cultured ones will taste as good though. Anything commercially produced somehow loses much of the quality.

November 13, 2007 9:18 AM  

Blogger pusa said...

neat! is it really big or small? meron din ba sya ocean sound if you put it in your ears?

November 13, 2007 9:28 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Not that big, Pusa -- only about 6x4 1/2 inches. Also, its only the half of the shell it looks more like an ashtray when turned upside down. But its colors are awesome, though.

November 13, 2007 10:00 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I was very much attracted to its colors, Rhoda, and that's why I got one :) I didn't realize that it's inside is moher of pearl.

You're right, somehow it's not easy to completely replicate nature.

November 13, 2007 10:03 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I love shells, Mimi. Wish there's a place where I could buy them because its not that easy to find nice shells along the seashore anymore.

November 13, 2007 10:04 AM  

Blogger ajay said...

P.S. I sent you an email through your hotmail...thanks:)

November 13, 2007 10:13 AM  

Anonymous kyels said...

That is an interesting shell! I like the color of the shell.


Abalones are tasty Eric; in my opinion. One of the delicacies that we usually have during Chinese New Year.

November 13, 2007 10:45 AM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

That's beautiful!! There used to be a lot of those in Narra, Palawan back when my father used to operate a chromite mine there. Also taklobo. There was this one really huge taklobo that they were trying to haul in using a bulldozer!! Seriously, it was like a bathtub. Hindi nga nakuha kasi it was imbedded in the sand. The huge ones we had were as big as sinks!

If you like shells, go to Garden2000 (parang ganun yun name) located at the Manila Seedling Bank on the corner of Edsa and Quezon Ave. I get my shells for decorating there :)

November 13, 2007 1:04 PM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

when i was a kid, my grandmother used abalone as an ingredient in sotanghon guisado. nowadays, it's too expensive, i use squid balls instead! lol

the abalone shell is used in Philippine handicraft products like picture frames, jewelry boxes, and other home decor items, also in fashion accessories. the shell can also absorb dye...

November 13, 2007 1:11 PM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

if you're in cebu, there's a store there where you can buy local and imported shells.

November 13, 2007 1:13 PM  

Blogger carlotta said...

looks great! before i thought abalone is a kind of sea creature that has no shell.

November 13, 2007 1:38 PM  

Blogger Aura said...

Wow! That´s a nice abalone shell you got SE!
Love to colect shells too but dont have anything like yours.The only abalone i got is a bracelet i bought at "Tesoros" in Ermita i think.( Dnt know if they still exist) Love that bracelet and i always used it during summer.
With regards to its meat, as i remember the good chinese restaurants during the 80´s in Mla. they still serve it in their menus.Dnt remember the name of the chinese resto but i remember eating in Makati at....hay naku , forgot even the name of the road, sorry....Masarap sya and expensive too!

November 13, 2007 6:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Fashion jewelries inlaid with abalone or mother of pearl are quite popular in NYC during the summer months, Aura. They really have that tropical look to them.

One of these days, I'll get to taste an abalone ... hehehe.


November 13, 2007 7:32 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Truth be told, Carla, I had no idea whatsoever what an abalone looks like until I got this shell. I didn't know, either, that its meat is edible.

November 13, 2007 7:34 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Does it taste like tahong, Miranda? I love tahong or mussels.

Yes, abalone is used a lot in various decorative items and custom jewelries. If ever I find myself in Cebu, I shall definitely look for this shell shp. Thanks!

November 13, 2007 7:36 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

would you believe, Scrooch, that I could never find the entrance to the Manila Seedling Bank? I've been wanting to go there for the longest time.

Shells as big as sinks? Whoa! Do you still have them? Can you take pictures and post in your site? Thanks!

November 13, 2007 7:39 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Then it must also be expensive, Kyels? I really would like to get a taste of it. I should check out the fine restaurants around Chinatown here. Thanks, Kyels!

November 13, 2007 7:41 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Got it, Ajay. Thanks and will send it to you asap!

November 13, 2007 7:41 PM  

Blogger luna miranda said...

No, it's tastier than tahong. It has a rich flavor...and second to 'diwal', it's the most delicious shellfish I ever tasted. Specially when eaten raw.

November 13, 2007 9:47 PM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

The entrance of Manila Seedling Bank is along Agham Road. If you're coming from Manila, take Q.Ave itaas, not the underpass. Make a u-turn on Edsa and take a right back to Q. Ave. When you get to the stoplight, turn left to Agham. Then take the first U-turn and look for the police outpost on your right. The entrance of MSB is right there. Hope my road directions are clear.

Re the sink-size taklobos. I think they're still there in the warehouse in Narra. I'm actually supposed to go visit and check out all our equipment there to see what can still be used.

November 14, 2007 9:14 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Looks like a piece of art!

November 14, 2007 2:05 PM  

Anonymous bernadette said...

It simply is ethereal! What if your background be black? Anyway, I couldn't help but with mesmerized with the sheer beauty of it! You have there a jewel. I recall vividly seeing a nautilus once while riding a banca in the swamps of Palawan. It was wedged under a crevice of a big rock. It was like a glistening metallic silver orb from a distance! However, I didn't have the nerve to ask the banca pilot to stop and try to get it.

November 14, 2007 4:43 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

A black backdrop would certainly make the photograph even more dramatic, Bernadette. However, I try to limit my use of black background and want to dabble more with other possibilities.

My intention for this image was to give it something of a silvery, aquatic backdrop. What came to mind was to use a wire mesh (used as screen for doors and windows to keep the mosquitoes out). And that's what I used :)

Whoa! Nautilus is what I've always wanted to get my hands on to photograph. Would you have any idea how much they cost? This way I'd know what to expect to pay for it around here. Thanks!

November 14, 2007 5:59 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Sidney!

November 14, 2007 6:01 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Very clear, Scrooch and thank you very much! Now, I know how to get over there :)

And please take a picture of the taklobos. I'm really curious how they look.

November 14, 2007 6:02 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Then it must surely be tasty, Miranda. Now, I'm craving for one ... hehehe!

Many thanks :)

November 14, 2007 6:03 PM  

Blogger reyd said...

Wow, marami sa amin sa Bikol dati niyan. Yung mga sumisisid will bring up those abalones to their boat and eat some of the meat right away dahil sariwa and will sell the shells along the beach.
We had some of those for dsiplay in our home in San Juan, until nasunugan kami at ilan na lang natira.
Yeah, rekado nga ito sa pancit when my lola use to cook for us.

November 15, 2007 3:20 AM  

Blogger Ebb Tide said...

Very nice photo of the green abalone. I like to collect shells too but I don't own any green abalone. My favorite is the nautilus shell. Just got back from another trip to Naples, Longboat Key/ Sarasota (Florida). Went to this place called Shell Factory & Nature Park in Fort Myers. They claim it to be the world's largest. It's very interesting place to browse and buy exotic shells from around the world. You can visit this site via the internet:www.shellfactory.com

November 15, 2007 6:21 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

s what others said, Reyd -- you can eat the abalone meat raw like oysters. Wow!

Bakit kaya nawala na o umunti na supply nito sa Bicol?

November 15, 2007 6:44 AM  

Blogger reyd said...

I've tried that meat, medyo makunat pero malasa, I'd settle for an octopus or pusit na sariwa. We eat a lot of those when we are in a "baklad"
(parang malaking fish trap ito) during the harvest time, daming sumasabit na pusit, hipon at octopus kasi.

Kaya siguro nawawala na ang mga ito ay dahil most of them settle into a deeper area of the sea because of human's disrespect on nature. Pati mga coral reefs sa amin, nawala na dahil sa mga trawlers.

November 15, 2007 10:25 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That's tragic, Reyd. Sayang naman ang marine life natin dahilan lang sa hindi pagaalaga ng ating mga taong bayan. Tagal pa naman mag-develop and mga coral reefs.

Makunat pala 'yan abalone meat. Pero sana matikman pa din one of these days.

November 15, 2007 10:37 AM  

Blogger Major Tom said...

It looks so elegant, no wonder abalone commands very high price, even in our part of the country, where sea products are main commercial objects.

November 15, 2007 3:06 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It is indeed a pretty shell, Major Tom. A nautilus is next on my to buy list. I'm sure you have plenty of these shells then where you are.

November 15, 2007 3:15 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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