>> About dried abalone
Yes. It's a kind of processed food, processed in an old-fashioned way and nobody would think it's as precious as a jewel without any background knowledge.
Just like wine in Western countries, drying food has been a common practice in Asian countries and generally a premium is added to it based on the manufacturer's skills and the way to process it.
Among those, dried abalone were known as one of the Emperors' favorites in China and are still one of the best( and the most expensive) menus in Chinese food.
Though dried abalone are mainly consumed among Chinese, most of them are produced in Japan because abalone were abound in the past and many skills to process them had been established there when they were first introduced in China.
The skills, the ways to process them vary from place to place. Each one of the ways has its historical background and deserves studying and preserving. But we could look at and rate those ways to the liking of Chinese since they're the main consumers.
"吉浜蚫"(Kippin-pao) is a good example. It is a highly regarded dried abalone in China and its name is derived from a small town called "吉浜"(Yoshihama) in Japan.
You may go to a high-end Chinese restaurant in town and place an order of a Kippin-pao if they have. But make sure you check the price before you order. It can be as high as $3,000 or more! It's still the Emperors' menu.
It takes a month or two to dry and process them, and it takes a few days to cook them. Besides, abalone is an endangered species and there are many restrictions on catching it across the world. It may as well be such an expensive food.
Now that you have enough background information on it, you would never give up trying the food to see if it's worth the money.