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About Limpets Edit
The limpet is a mollusk and it is a member of Acmaeidae family. The limpets can be found throughout littoral zones and they are usually found on rocks near seas or oceans. The limpets have a flat shell and they stick on the rocks by using a muscular foot which allows them to remain attached on rocks if a big wave comes. They eat by using their radula which is an organ similar to a tongue with rows of teeth. Limpets feed on algae and other vegetative organisms. Limpets’ size can vary from eight centimeters to twenty centimeters. There are numerous species of limpets and they have mostly the same features. The most common species are true limpets, finger limpets, white cap limpet and Lottia gigantia. Limpets’ colors vary from white to brown but there are species which have a sandy color. Limpets are usually captured by bigger fishes when they are taken by a wave or by shore birds. They generally live a long life approximately ten years. Limpets, unlike conches have no operculum to defend their soft bodies consequently they stick firmly to the rocks at lowtide to keep from drying out.
Preparing Limpets Edit
Getting these off the rocks to begin with seems to trouble most people. I simply use a flat stone, about palm sized, and strike the limpet at the base, close to the join with the rock. Aim to give it one quick hard whack, otherwise it will suck on and will become more difficult to dislodge. Do not hit them more than once, you will probably damage the shell and waste the limpet, so sneak up on them.
I place all of my shellfish in a bucket of clean highly salted water which promotes the regurgitation of grit/sand they may have swallowed. If I have bivalves, such as mussels in the bucket I will add some oats as food to ensure they remain alive. Leave them overnight/24 hours ideally in this water possibly changing it if there seems to be lots of sand expelled. DO NOT ADD FLOUR TO THE WATER, this was a trick by restaurants to feed shellfish to keep them alive for longer, but filter feeders will then contain raw flour, which is not good for the digestion and was often mistaken for food poisoning.
They are now ready to cook, and must be cooked whilst alive, same as other shellfish/crustaceans.
Cooking Limpets Edit
Limpets are easy to prepare and cook.
Firstly you need to purge them, as with most shellfish, so they spit out any dirt/grit prior to cooking. No-one wants crunchy shellfish. To achieve this, leave them in a bucket of clean water with lots of added salt overnight, you can add oats to the water to help feed the shellfish if you have bivalves such as mussels in the bucket too.
You are now ready to cook the limpet. Once cooked, usually by boiling, the meat will fall from the shell. DO NOT OVERCOOK THEM, the meat will go really tough, so once free of the shell drain them off and cool them down. The meat is separated into the black guts, the foot, and the head.
Pinch the head between your thumb and index finger, twist and pull. This will remove the head fro the foot complete with a length of nerves (you can chuck the head piece away, or feed it to the birds).
You now have 2 parts, the chewy foot and the blackish guts. Most people seem to discard the guts, but as far as I know they are edible, I used to eat them pickled with the meat.
The foot is the most useful meat, often blended into chowder, or pickled with malt vinegar. You can cook the limpets directly in a stew, but you have to pick them out to finish the prep, so I typically coke them separately and add them to the stew at the end.
I simply place them into a pan of lightly boiling water. They are ready once the meat starts to come out of the shells. You then need to remove the head, by pinching it between thumb and index finger twisting and pulling. Typically the black guts sack and the heads are discarded/used for bait/fed to animals/birds.
Limpets make a useful addition to seafood dishes, although the chewy texture is not always appreciated. I tend to blend them into a chowder base.
You can add the uncooked limpets in their shells to stew type dishes directly to cook, but you will have to fish them out to remove the heads/guts.
Storing Limpets Edit
All shellfish is best cooked fresh once purged. They need to be cooked whilst alive to prevent unwelcome affects.
Once cooked they should be used straight away, alternatively they can be pickled in vinegar similar to other shellfish.