Monday, 28 June 2010

Wilking back to happiness

A small but successful foraging foray on the gastrobeach this weekend.

We had a friend staying who had never eaten wilks (winkles - same thing) so I considered it my duty to make sure he got to try some before he left. He had tried other tasty gastropods, so (fortunately) knew what to expect.

Wilks (know as Common Periwinkle in England) are relatively safe to eat at this time of year, despite the warmer sea temperature. The common kind are seaweed-eating grazers, unlike the larger Whelk species, which are carnivorous. Wilks don't filter-feed so they don't pass large quantities of sea water through their bodies in the way that bivalves (such as mussels) do and, therefore, they don't tend to accumulate the same nasty toxins.

We collected a small pot of wilks and also some sea lettuce and sugar kelp. Heading home the skies opened and we got thoroughly drenched.

We boiled the wilks for five minutes in salted water before draining them and adding olive oil and powdered garlic. My friend and I ate the lot; pulling out the coiled morsels with a pin and discarding the indigestible opercula. I got my wife to try one by getting her to close her eyes before eating it. Wilk innards are tasty but not attractive.

We had the somewhat-insubstantial dried-out sea lettuce and sugar kelp as an accompaniment.

There was a game of World Cup football on while we munched our micro-feast: England vs Germany. He's American and we're Scottish. Thoroughly enjoyable all round.

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