Friday, 11 February 2011

Winkels good, Dog Whelks bad

There are millions of winkles about, but not quite as many millions as I had first thought:  Lots of them are in fact dog whelks, which taste shit.

It didn't take long for Leo and I to gather a couple of handfuls of the critters, despite the fact that Leo didn't help at all.  He did, however, pluck one winkle off a rock, hold it up to his face and say "are you ok?" before quickly launching it as far as physically possible. Didn't even give it a chance to answer - guess we'll never know.

After letting the crustaceans purify themselves in salted water for a few hours...I cooked them to death:  Fried some onion, carrot, garlic, and then added a handful of bladderwrack (because it was growing where the winkles came from) and a bit of water.  I added the winkles to the pot, put the lid on, and steamed them for five minutes.

Then I ate them, which is very satisfying (if you haven't done it before):  You stick a pin or a cocktail stick into the opening and pull out the good stuff; a wierd slimy grey curly thing.  It's a bit off putting at first, but when you stop and think what a mussel looks like...Anyway, I will definitely eat them again, but give dog whelks a miss (maybe they taste bad because they are carnivores).  My winkles were nice, though - not at all tough, like you would expect.

Winkles and Dog Whelks are fortunately quite easy to tell apart:  Dog whelks have a white/ grey shell, with a distinct groove on the rim of the opening, which is where they shoot out their evil sucker thing.  Winkles are more greenish/ dark grey, and usually squirt a bit of water at you when you pull them off a rock.  Which is fair enough, really.

ps The above is also another way not to eat bladderwrack.  There must be a way...


  1. Hello! Ive never benn foraging for winkles but I have been for mussles, they tasted great but they were bloody tiny, the shells were an average size but they just had these teeny tiny mussles in them! I will do it again though but wait until the tide is really far out and get the biggest one's I can find!!

  2. Hi there - I've had exactly the same problem with mussels - tasty but tiny. Somebody knows something we don't...

  3. I don't think I ever tried winkles before. You got me curious now :-) I didn't know where to email you so I'm just commenting here. Saw your comment on our site and I have a question. Don't know where to email you.

  4. Hi Mica - I've just signed up for your ebook (as Mike Scott) using my personal email. Cheers, Mike.