The percebe or goose barnacle (Pollicipes pollicipes) is a cirripede crustacean that, given its great gastronomic value, is known as the black gold of the Coast of Death, reaching very high prices in our markets.
Since the best barnacles are found on rocks heavily beaten by the waves, the job of the “percebeiro” can be extremely risky and it claims, on average, the lives of five fishermen every year. This danger together with their scarcity contribute, therefore, to their high price.
The barnacles of the Coast of Death are the most appreciated on the market, and their shellfishing is one of the main sources of income for many families. On occasion, fishermen are forced to go out to fish in adverse weather and sea conditions risking their own lives.
The barnacles of Galician origin are unmistakable for their flavour and the tight texture of their meat. Some of their distinguishing characteristics compared to those of other origins, such as Morocco or Canada, are that the barnacles from Galicia are shorter and fatter, and they also have a darker hue.
WHAT TO DO
Give your palate a treat and enjoy a percebada*. The best way to eat goose barnacles is by cooking them in boiling sea water just for a couple of minutes without any other seasoning, although some people may choose to add a bay leaf to the boiling water.
*a large dish of percebes
Percebeiro- Photo courtesy of Juanma Abelleira Ronquete