SYDNEY, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- Every year seafood lovers flock to beaches in Perth, Western Australia (WA) for the annual abalone harvest.
Prevalent among them are Chinese immigrants looking to savor a piece of the ocean's bounty and, according to Dr Li Chen, bridge the gap between their traditional and adopted homes.
Chen is from Edith Cowan University in WA and on Tuesday released a study in which she analyzes the relationship between the migrants and the abalone harvest, and explores the reason why the scarce delicacy is of such great appeal.
"WA's abalone, a treasure of nature, is a bridge joining Chinese people's memories of their motherland and the nature of Australia," Chen said.
In mainland China, abalone is associated with power and wealth, but Chen said that Chinese immigrants to Perth relate abalone harvesting to health, entertainment, sentimentality, and the sensory dimensions of their new life.
"Early immigrants return to the memories of their hometown via the flavor of the delicacy, while the younger newcomers may have their first taste with a sense of enjoyment with their new life and place," she said.
Chen said that the abalone harvest, which this year due to depleted stocks has been limited to four days, is an important signifier to Chinese in Australia of the healthy, positive lifestyle available to them.
"Abalone has always been a very expensive food ingredient in China and wild stock is rare, so Chinese people believe if I can catch free wild abalone, I'm leading a privileged and desirable life," Chen said.
After every abalone harvest young people are also posting photos on social media of fishing, coastal scenery and the process of cooking to their friends and relatives in China.
While the cooking of abalone in China is a complex and varied skill, many of Perth's Chinese population are taking their lead from the locals and trying out simple recipes such as barbecue or sashimi.
Chen added that even environmental based restrictions, which in recent years have become increasingly tight, have gathering support from the Chinese community.
"Chinese people are becoming aware of the importance of environmental protection and the need to treasure and conserve our natural resources."