Starfish restaurant is serving rare species of abalone

Starfish restaurant is serving rare species of abalone

Starfish serves the abalone raw in thin slices and with the incredibly rare roe (Photo courtesy of Patrick McMurray)

Toronto restaurateur and champion oyster shucker Patrick McMurray has tracked down a sustainable source of extremely rare pintos, Canada’s only naturally occurring abalone species, for his Adelaide Street seafood restaurant Starfish.

The large sea snails are prized for their luscious meat but cannot be legally caught or served in Canada unless grown on a farm, so McMurray tracked down the six-person-run, British Columbia–based Bamfield Huu-ay-aht Community Abalone Project, which aims to replenish wild stock of the mollusc and get it off the Canadian government’s threatened species list. Starfish is the second restaurant in the country to serve Huu-ay-aht’s abalone (C Restaurant in Vancouver was the first).

McMurray believes the majority of restaurateurs serving abalone don’t know where it comes from or how it was harvested. “We need to know where it comes from so that we can know it comes from a sustainable and ocean-friendly source,” he says.

The pintos are shipped live to Starfish, where they are served raw, in the half-shell, for $15 a pop. McMurray plans to order them as the season permits and expects another shipment by the end of January.

Rare abalone gets served up in Toronto [Post City]