The humble abalone has held a reputation for being food fit only for royalty for years. Though developments in farming and processing this prized mollusc make it more readily available today, it can still fetch a hefty price. WHAT? Abalone are shellfish prized for both the meat and shell. They are most coveted in Southeast and East Asian cultures, as historically, these tender morsels would be served to the emperors of dynasties old alongside shark’s fin and bird’s nest soup, while present times see them as a delicacy normally reserved to mark the finer moments in life, namely weddings and celebrations. WHY? The large price tag on this precious shellfish, especially wild abalone, can be attributed to the difficulty of procuring it, as well as laws to protect and conserve abalone species from extinction. Abalone are notoriously hard to fish, as they live on rocky oceanic outcrops and have an extremely strong hold to these rocks to avoid being washed away by the tide. Furthermore, locating them could prove to be a problem too, as they are known to grow in hard-to-reach crannies while camouflaged among the rocks. WHERE? Abalone can be found along the coast of almost every continent, but are most commonly harvested along the coasts of South Africa, Japan and the Oceanic continent, especially in New Zealand where it is known by its Maori name, paua. HOW MUCH? Wild-caught abalone can run up to USD500 per kilogram, weighed along with the shell, which would yield only about a fourth of that weight in abalone meat. Wild dried abalone sold by the Tasmanian company Candy Abalone is a hit in the Chinese market, reaching prices of AUD1,400 per kilogram.