This, our most handsome shellfish, grows up to 6 in. in length and is at once recognised by its oval, flattened shell with the row of holes along the back and the wonderful internal lustre of opalescent greens and blues, with occasional fiery flashes. The shape of the paua is a special adaptation for clinging to flat surfaces of rock, after the manner of a limpet, the holes in the shell being used for the purpose of expelling water used in the aeration of the gills. The paua is found at lowest spring-tide level and in deeper water on rocky ground in open coastal situations. Pauas cling to the rock with great suction, and a quick, deft thrust with a broad, thin-bladed knife is necessary to prise them off.
The paua animal has considerable food value and is very palatable, provided that the following rather drastic culinary preparations are attended to: remove the animal from its shell and discard all the soft parts, leaving only the tough foot and muscle, and taking care that a long, white, ribbonlike structure is removed from the mouth. This is the radula, or dental apparatus, which is studded with hundreds of hard, sharp, tiny teeth. Next, place the animal in a fold of cloth and pound it until muscular tension is relaxed. The flesh is now rolled in flour or covered with batter and either grilled or deep fried for three minutes. Omit the pounding or cook for more than three minutes and the result will be something akin to synthetic rubber.
by Arthur William Baden Powell, Assistant Director, Auckland Institute and Museum.