Goose Barnacle

The Barnacle is considered to be a great delicacy in some parts of the world. This is especially so in Spain where the Goose Barnacle (where it is known as Percebes) is a great favourite with some. It is also eaten in Portugal, Italy, Greece, Morocco and Canada and in increasing numbers in other countries.

As Seafood’s go it is expensive. The Goose Barnacles grow in locations where it is both difficult and unsafe to harvest by boat. This necessitates the fisherman swimming to them, timing his approach to their rocky location to sit in with the swell and ebb of the waves. The other alternative is to abseil down cliffs which can be extremely risky. It is dangerous work whichever way it is done and there are deaths and injuries every year. Small wonder then that the Goose Barnacle sells at about £100.00 a kilo. Currently there are efforts to grow them commercially and safely. Presently Washington State in the USA is having some success. Although the Gooseneck Barnacle is eaten in Canada and to a limited degree in the US the Canadian Barnacles have, when permitted, been exported to Spain where there is a higher demand.

Percebes for sale on market stall - 99.95 Euro a Kilo

Percebes | Source

Most species of 1000 or so species of Barnacle are inedible or not worth the effort to harvest. Only around a dozen species are of commercial value. At their best they are not the most appetising looking of crustaceans but they are delicious. With few exceptions most of the Barnacles eaten are the Goose Barnacle type.

The most commonly eaten are:

Goose Barnacle – 'Percebe' (Pollicipes pollicipes) in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Canada

Other species include Pollicipes polymerus, Pollicipes cornucopia, Balanus nubilus and Lepas anatifera

Chilean Edible Giant Barnacle - 'Picoloco' (Austromegabalanus psittacus) in Chile

Giant Azorean Barnacle - 'Craca' Megabalanus azoricus in the Azores

Japanese Goose Barnacle - 'Kamenote' (Capitulum mitella) in Japan

Rostrate Barnacle - Balanus rostratus in Japan

Tetraclita kuroshioensis - Sikka village, Flores Island, Indonesia

Goose Barnacles on a rock

Goose Barnacles
Goose Barnacles | Source

Very Odd Looking Japanese Goose Barnacles

Capitulum mitella
Capitulum mitella | Source

The Barnacles are best boiled in sea water with a couple of Bay leaves. Bring the sea water to the boil. Once the water is boiling add the Goose Barnacles. Bring to the boil again. Remove and they are ready to eat. Eating them can be a messy business and needs a little practice. Take hold of the white claw and shove the meaty bit into your mouth. Use your teeth to take off the meat.

Some prefer to eat them raw. Wherever they are eaten there is a local favourite recipe.

Jamie Oliver created a dish including Goose Barnacles entitled: 'Soupy Rice with codium, goose barnacles and lobster'.

A fairly recent arrival to the market are Goose Barnacle pate and tinned Goose Barnacles.

Percebes in Market
Percebes in Market | Source

Harvesting The Goose Barnacle

Collecting Goose Barnacles is no easy task as the next video will show.

Risking Life for a delicacy

Lepas anserifera
Lepas anserifera | Source

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Comments 12 comments

Vishaaa profile image

Vishaaa 5 years ago from Somewhere on this earth..

OMG, This is the first time I'm seeing and hearing abut this messy stuff. I'm just wondering how people eat those.It looks awful.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

There are many unpleasant and bad smelling things which taste delicious. I ate a fish the other night, species unknown, which I had never eaten before. Once I got over the smell I found it to be very tasty. We need to persevere with food.

Vishaaa profile image

Vishaaa 5 years ago from Somewhere on this earth..

Thanks for introducing this delicious(???) food for me.

gr82bme profile image

gr82bme 5 years ago from USA

I have heard of these before. I love seafood and will try anything once.

When we lived in Alaska you ate what you caught. Sometimes it didn't look as good as it tasted.

Fun hub

dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Having pulled my cabin cruiser from being in the ocean for two years... I had a banquet on the ground after scraping the barnacles off the bottom. I should have had a BBQ!

Flag up and useful!

gion profile image

gion 5 years ago

wow. I've been around barnacles all my life, and never thought of them as food. Very informative piece.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

gr82bme - There are some very odd looking foods but really it is taste that counts, you can always close your eyes I suppose. Thanks for reading.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

dallas93444 - Just think. If you ever got lost at sea you only needed to have leaned over the side for a snack. Assuming they were worth the effort of course. You need vitamin C as well. Fish eyes are a rich source I'm told. I always eat them. Thank you for commenting.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

gion - Maybe an alternative source of income for you there? Good luck. Thank you for visiting.

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your information. Thank you.

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 5 years ago from South East Asia Author

Hello, hello, - Thank you. I am pleased you enjoyed it.

gr82bme profile image

gr82bme 5 years ago from USA

I love your avatar. LOL

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