Looking like the amputated feet from tiny pre-historic monsters, goose necked barnacles are certainly going to give you an eye catching plate.
Different species grow in pockets all around the world but always on rocks in the crashing waves of the heaviest of seas. In Spain, where they are extremely popular, they are known as percebes, selling for around $75-115 per kilo. Galicia in North West Spain is the culinary capital for these petite crustaceans, hosting a summer festival in celebration. Growing on the jagged rocks of the Costa de Morte (literally meaning coast of death), they are battered by the Atlantic waves. Here, fishermen risk their lives to harvest the barnacles by tying ropes around their waists secured to a fishing partner on the cliffs or to small fishing boats, for fear of being swept to their death.
Rarely more than 8cm long, they are enjoyed from Mexico to Cape Town, and in Japan they are referred to as cat’s hands. Their sweet lobster (or some say crab) like flavor and clam-like texture lend themselves to the lightest of cooking methods. They are usually steamed or lightly boiled in salted water to preserve their sweet flavor, they can even be eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon just as you would an oyster. The barnacles are best served simply so as not to shroud their delicate taste, drizzled with melted butter or perhaps soy sauce and a seaweed salad. But then Eastern chefs sometimes tempura them, and their South American counterparts add them to their seafood stews. Why not make a barnacle bouillabaisse or heighten a paella dish. Ask for them at a large fish market or alternatively log on to theseafoodmerchants.com
It's only the stalk like peduncle that is eaten; the remaining part is twisted off and discarded resulting in a spurting of juices so just remember to keep your napkin at the ready.