“Percebe” in Spanish and “lamperna” in basque
Goose barnacles in the Basque Country is one of those strange things that are eaten in northern Spain. It is a seafood that grows on the most exposed rocks of the North Atlantic Ocean from Portugal and northern Spain to the coasts of France and the United Kingdom. It needs very rich and wild seas. This type of barnacle grows in the heart of the cliffs in its most inaccessible cracks, where the waves beat without stopping. This type of molluscs are found clinging to the rock and remain immobile, that is to say that they do not move. They grow in colonies of numerous individuals and hey have a head protected by a shell where resides what may look like a crab. With this part it filters the water and obtains its food. They feed on the plankton of the sea. The part more appreciated by the gastronomy is the muscular part that unites the mollusk to the rock. . It is a very fleshy and juicy part of the mollusk.
How they collect it from the rocks?
It is a risky profession since the “percebeiros” must go down to the rocks tied up with a safety harness and take advantage of the moments when the waves are not coming. At that moment they descend into the crevice and begin to collect the mollusks. Their companion who is in the highest part warns him of when the waves come. At that moment the “percebeiro” goes up again to the high part of the rock and waits for the sea to go down again. It is very risky but the price may be worth it because the market price per kilo is between 60€ and 120€. Depending on the origin and size of the specimens. The bigger the better!
How to cook them?
It’s very simple, you put water with salt in a pot and heat it up until it is boiling. If you want you can add a bay leaf to give a special aroma. When the water boils, add the barnacles, at that moment it will stop boiling. Immediately when it starts boiling again, the “barnacles” are removed to a plate. We recommend opening a bottle of white wine such as a bottle of Txakoli from Guetaria.
What can be said about its taste? It is as if you eat a bit of sea. It tastes like the sea!
Video of the percebes fishing in Galicia, the gaelic part of Spain.