This seafood is probably one of the best kept gourmet secrets and an exclusive delicacy only found on the rocky cliffs of the western coast of Portugal, Galicia in Spain, Brittany in France and Morocco. No other seafood tastes as much like ocean as the “percebes”.
Known as goose barnacles in English, they are sought after by seafood lovers and, if found, can fetch up to 150,00 € a kilo in specialized shops in central Europe. On the Portuguese Alentejo coast though, you can buy them fresh from local “percebeiros” for as little as 15,00 € to 20,00 € a kilo.
But why is this delicacy so expensive and dangerous? It is the harvest that is dangerous, as the “percebes” grow exactly where the ocean waves crash against the rocks and can only be collected at low tide, although even then the higher waves still cover them. As the best and biggest specimen grow where it is difficult to get to, courageous “percebeiros” will climb along the cliffs, bound on ropes and dressed in diving suits, and scrape the barnacles with specialized tools off the rocks.
They are shortly cooked in salted water and a bayleaf and best savoured with a cold “imperial” overlooking the beautiful “Costa Vicentina” on Portugal’s Alentejo coast.