Gooseneck barnacles are so ugly it’s hard to think of them as food. We’ve heard that in Spain and Portugal, percebes can cost up to $200 per kilo at restaurants. If people are spending that much to have them with a glass of Sherry, they must be pretty special.
On a recent trip to the far side of Vancouver Island we spotted some on the rocks at low tide and took the opportunity to see what the fuss was all about.
A very low tide gave access to rocks that are usually out of reach.
Gooseneck barnacles compete with the mussels for space.
Because they are filter feeders, they prefer turbulent waters. The biggest ones grow on the far, ocean-facing side of the rocks.
The big Pacific waves help the muscle grow fat and long.
A sampling of seafood from the rocks.
Hard to believe that inside these dinosaur-like heads and leathery bodies hides incredibly tender flesh with a flavour something like shrimp crossed with scallops.
Click through to see them cooked and served.
The orange part is the foot that attached to the rock face.
We added a strip of kelp to a shallow pot of sea water for a little umami flavour.
Boiled for only two minutes.
To get to the tender meat inside, pick the foot off the end…
… and hold onto the scaly head. The hard outer sheath slides off in one piece.
Not surprisingly, a glass of dry Sherry is the perfect pairing.