🇪🇸 En español: Lapas a la Plancha
Apparently, one of the local’s favourite choices to start a meal, grilled limpets are very popular in the Azores, Canary Islands and Madeira. Seasoned with garlic and butter and served straight from the grill with lemon on the side.
I can’t say I’ve ever thought of eating them but there’s a first time for everything. I have tried using them for bait when fishing from the shore but even the fish didn’t seem that interested.
In modern history, limpets have had a reputation as a famine food, being mentioned during both the Irish potato famine and the Highland clearances. Forced to eat whatever was available, coastal communities would take limpets from the shoreline.
Limpets are one of the most abundant and familiar features of coastlines all around the world. Their ability to cling stubbornly to rocks is well known as anyone who has tried to prise one off will know.
Surprisingly, limpets are being used in medical research as their proteins are being researched as a potential treatment for both bladder cancer, lupus and asthma.
Limpets ‘teeth’ are composed of geothite, the strongest material known in nature, and there is ongoing research for next-generation technologies because of their abrasion resistance.
Limpet teeth have recently overtaken spider silk as the world’s strongest known biological structure.
There have been some suggestions of limpets potentially being farmed as a future food source rather than harvesting the coastal population. Researchers believe the limpets grazing the rocks perform an important role in the tidal ecosystem.
There is some doubt as to the feasibility of farming limpets as they are slow growing and it may not be practical.
Rather like whelks, limpets are popular in Asian cuisine with tinned ones fetching a premium. I don’t know whether tinned ones are available in the UK, but Madeira is now exporting frozen limpets.
A distributor in Jersey is advertising them but only for local delivery.
Seeing as they don’t seem to be commercially available I am going to have to forage some for myself next time I visit the coast. Perhaps I can surprise our next dinner guests. Watch this space.
Failing that the grilled limpets will have to wait until our next visit to Gran Canaria.
Other Recipes You Maybe Interested in …..
Grilled Limpets with Green Mojo
- 20 Limpets can be more if the molluscs are small.
- 2 cloves Garlic
- Sea salt
- Fresh parsley.
- 50 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Wash the limpets well until they are completely free of sand, dirt, moss, etc., and drain them.
- Put the parsley, a small spoonful of coarse sea salt and the peeled garlic cloves in a mortar until a paste is formed. Then add the extra virgin olive oil and stir well to mix.
- Put the limpets on a grill or iron plate with the shells facing down and pour the green mojo over them.
- Cook them over a high heat until you see that the meat has come off the shells and they are ready to serve. Wait a few minutes for them to warm up and serve them immediately to taste them at their best.