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.