How to cook percebes (Galician goose barnacles)

Percebes Galician Goose Barnacles
Galicia is famous for the ‘Camino de Santiago’, the pilgrimage route through northern Spain that thousands follow every year to visit the tomb of apostle St James, in Santiago de Compostela. For many, this Camino is the most direct way to heaven. But ask the locals and they will swear to know a much shorter fast track… the percebes.

Percebes —Spanish for goose barnacles— are the unquestionable secret gem of Spanish seafood. Not the prettiest looking food, nor the easiest one to eat. And with prices hitting the rocket amount of 300 euros per kilo during the Christmas season, nor the most affordable one either. However, they are indeed the most appreciated one. Ask any connoisseur about the tastiest seafood of them all and I’m pretty confident that most —if not all— will choose these alien-looking paw-shaped crustaceans. But why?

Percebes live attached to the rocks of the Galician coastline. But not to any random rocks… they favour areas where the water storm-bashes the rocks with an unusually vicious strength. This roughness causes a direct positive effect in the water… it keeps it extremely clean. And this is very important because percebes feed by infiltration, which means that living in such a pure environment explains why eating one of these animals is like placing a bit of the ocean inside your mouth. And by the way, it also justifies the high prices we pay for them, since the ‘perceberos’ risk their lives to access and catch them in such dangerous and rough coastal areas.

Percebes —as it happens with many luxury ingredients— are cooked in a super simple way in order to preserve all its original qualities. We can tell you how to cook percebes in less than five seconds… Boiled in seawater and that’s about it. Now the issue is how to eat them… Easy if you know how or a mission if you don’t.


How to cook percebes (Galician goose barnacles)
Serves: people Print recipe
Preparation time: 2 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Passive time: 2 minutes
Difficulty: Easy



  1. The best way to cook the percebes is using seawater. If you don’t have seawater to hand, you can recreate it by adding 70 grams of sea salt per litre of mineral water. It is important to avoid tap water so that the percebes don’t get any taste of chlorine.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and then introduce half the percebes into the cooking pot. When the water starts boiling again, count 60 seconds and take the pot off the heat. Let aside for a minute and then remove the percebes with the help of a skimmer. Drain the percebes and place them in a platter. Cover them with a clean kitchen cloth so they keep warm. Now repeat the exact same operation with the other half of the percebes and serve immediately.

Some people like to add a bay leaf to the cooking water. However some claim that by doing that, the bay slightly camouflages the taste of the percebes, so in this recipe I’m choosing not to add anything.

A hack to recreate even a better version of seawater from scratch is to cook the mineral water and the salt together with a couple of percebes and some seaweeds for around 20 minutes. Once the water has been infused, discard the two cooked percebes and the seaweeds.