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
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
Very Odd Looking Japanese Goose Barnacles
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.
Harvesting The Goose Barnacle
Collecting Goose Barnacles is no easy task as the next video will show.