28 / Pāua

Haliotis iris

The pāua is perhaps the best known and most spectacular of the shells found in New Zealand, its interior distinguished by its iridescent blues and greens shot with fiery flashes. It favours tidal rock pools and the undersides of boulders, to which it clings with great tenacity. The black foot of the pāua, beaten just sufficiently to relax the muscular tension, can be flash-fried simply with butter and garlic to delicious effect. Omit the pounding and over-cook the flesh, and the pāua will be as tough as shoe leather. Pāua was a staple food for early Māori, and in more recent times the pāua fritter is considered a national delicacy. Māori traditionally used the shell’s colouration to great effect, both in carvings and for fishing lures, and for similar reasons it is now a popular material in the local souvenir and jewellery industries.

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