Looking more than anything like some fantasy dragon’s amputated toes, and not necessarily like anything you’d like to put in your mouth, Percebes (goose barnacles) are one of Galicia´s most prized gastronomic treats – not only demanding exorbitant prices, up to 200€/kilo but actually claiming lives of the intrepid locals who harvest them from the sea year after year. The Galician percebes are particularly good because of the pounding they get from the Atlantic surf, the more pounding the better the meat, the better the meat the higher the price, drawing the brave ‘percebeiros’ into ever more risky situations. If you’re ever tempted to think them a wee bit expensive you might want to take a look at this video.
And yet, as with many of Spain’s prized delicacies, expensive as they may be they’re not something the Gallego-in-the-street will go without, after all you can always make do with a hundred grams, or perhaps two… it’s the ‘capricho’ that counts. As if to prove a point, just the other day on our rounds we bumped into Alberto (pictured) who was tucking into his ‘ración’ with great gusto!
How to prepare percebes
Should you be lucky enough to find some on the market here’s how to prepare them:
Heat some water to boiling and add 70g of salt for every litre of water. Add the percebes and bring back to the boil.
There are many theories about how long to boil them for, perhaps the most interesting being that one should pray an Our Father and pull them out. Perhaps more practical advice would be that if they are small they should be done as soon as the water comes back to the boil but if they are larger about a minute and a half should do.