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Shellfish Secrets Unveiled: What Do Barnacles Taste Like?

Alright, folks—barnacles. Yes, you heard that right.

Before you scrunch up your face and scroll past, hold up a sec.

These little critters clinging onto the side of boats and rocks are more than just seaside cling-ons.

Bet you never thought about popping one into your mouth, did ya? Well, buckle up, because you’re in for a surprise.

They’ve got a flavor story that’s pretty unheard of, drawing curious foodies into their orbit.

And hey, if you’re all about trying the unusual or if “unique eats” is your middle name, then you’re in the exact right spot.

Welcome to the odd side of seafood—you might just find your next favorite snack!

What are Barnacles?

what are barnacles

Scientifically, barnacles are classified as Crustacea and are a type of arthropod (invertebrate animals with exoskeletons).

They mostly live in tidal and shallow waters.

Though they are similar to snails and mussels in appearance, barnacles are actually related to lobster and crabs.

In fact, if you examine their insides closely, you may notice a crab-like body plan.

What was once considered a nuisance that covered the bottoms of boats is now becoming a delicacy in several parts of the world.

Even award-winning chefs like Ryan Poli, former executive chef at The Catbird Seat restaurant in Nashville, showed great interest in adding these flavorful sea creatures to his menu.

Though mostly eaten in Portugal and Spain, barnacles are readily becoming available in North American cuisines and certain parts of Europe.

Out of the many species out there, the gooseneck barnacle and acorn barnacle are the most popular for consumption.

What Do Barnacles Taste Like?

what do barnacles taste like

Believe it or not, barnacles are straight-up delicious.

No denying, they do look strange and unappealing.

But if you get past their looks, you can easily fall in love with the flavor of barnacles, especially if you’re a fan of seafood.

Many people who have tasted barnacles claim that they taste similar to lobsters.

The flesh inside its hard exterior tends to be chewy and sweet.

However, the flavor of barnacles tends to vary depending on their type.

Let’s talk about the taste of the two most popular types of edible barnacles – gooseneck barnacle and rock barnacle.

Gooseneck barnacles, or percebes, are a tube-like creature with very little shell.

Likewise, they tend to have the most meat and are similar to an octopus in texture.

Flavor-wise, these barnacles have a sweet taste, which resembles a blend of clam and lobster.

Fun fact: gooseneck barnacles are considered a rare delicacy in Portugal and Spain.

On the other hand, rock barnacles (also known as picoroco) usually taste like scallops and crabs.

It goes without saying that the final flavor of your barnacles will depend on how you prepare and cook them.

Now, what about the nutritional value of barnacles? Are they any good for your health? Surprisingly, barnacles provide some health benefits as they are rich in iodine, vitamin 12, fatty acids, calcium, minerals, and iron.

Barnacles are believed to be good for your nails, skin, and hair health.

They might also help in boosting your metabolism and immune system.

How to Cook Barnacles?

how to cook barnacles

Now comes the interesting part, which most people are unaware of, how to cook barnacles? Can you prepare them like any other seafood?

Yes, barnacles can be prepared like any other seafood if you use the right kind.

The most common way to cook barnacles is to boil them in salty water.

It is said that the water must be made as salty as seawater.

If you don’t have seawater, simply recreate it by adding about 70 grams of sea salt to one liter of mineral water.

However, be very careful about how long you cook barnacles and at what temperature.

Even the slightest error can spoil your entire dish, making it flavorless and rubbery.

First, bring the saltwater to the boiling point, then add the barnacles.

Allow to cook for exactly 10 minutes with occasional stirring.

Then, drain the hot water and transfer the cooked barnacles into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Your barnacles will come out sweet and soft when you follow this cooking method.

For serving, it’s pretty simple.

Just place your cooked barnacles on a plate and serve them with a squeeze of lemon juice, and voila.

Your Spanish delicacy is ready for consumption.

Final Thought

Barnacles are edible crustaceans known for their sweet, mild, and crab-like taste.

When cooked in the right way, these sea creatures can easily be a star dish for any occasion.

In Spain, barnacles are extremely expensive, costing more than 200 euros for about 2 pounds.

So, if you ever get a chance to try this delicacy, consider yourself lucky.

If you’re ready for this food adventure, then check out this delicious barnacle recipe and try it at home.

You sure won’t regret it.

What Do Barnacles Taste Like? Do Barnacles Taste Good?

Curious about the taste of barnacles? Discover if barnacles taste good with a brief exploration.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Food Taste
Servings 1 Serving


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  • Depending on the ingredients used, the cooking method, and the type of dish, the taste of the food can vary greatly.
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Keyword what do barnacles taste like
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