Abalone shells are round or oval with a dome towards one end. The shell has respiratory pores sitting in a row. The muscular foot has strong suction power permitting the abalone to hold on to rocky surfaces.
[Raw awabi meat. From Wikipedia]
Awabi is best in May and June.
Live and raw abalone is used in awabi sushi or eaten as sashimi. In kaiseiki and kappo cuisines, one encounters awabi also served steamed, salted, boiled, chopped, or simmered in soy sauce.
In all, this is a real delicacy and a luxury item. In central Honshu (the Bay of Ise) awabi used to be harvested by divers (ama) - it now still exists as a spectacle for tourists.
[Fresh Awabi. Photo by Nagaremono]
Seafood Network Information Center
The Enduring Appeal of Abalone.