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Whelks, or Bulots Vivants in French, come from a family of sea snails found all over the world. They have elegant spiraled shells, usually in a pale brown color. They’re particularly popular in Europe, found in French brasseries, British seaside stands, and as ingredient in pasta dishes and salads in Italy.
When cooked right, their meat is tender and succulent, with a nice chewy texture. They have a briny and sweet flavor, reminiscent of clams.
Whelks can be grilled, baked, or deep-fried, and served with butter and some fresh lemon. They’re also brilliant to use in pastas and salads, and can be used in place of clams in various dishes.
Whelks are carnivorous, and to feed themselves, they chip the valves of other mollusks with their shell’s lip. They keep chipping until they make an opening, through which they fit their proboscis into and eat their prey. They also feed by extending said proboscis, and using the radula attached to it to drill a hold into the shell of their prey. Whelks have a gland that produces a chemical that softens calcium carbonate, which makes it easier to drill into shells.
Store your fresh shellfish in the fridge, keeping the temperature between 0 to 5°C. Place it in a bowl with ice at the bottom—or if you have the room, place ice in a large bowl, then place the shellfish in a slightly smaller bowl to sit in the large one—and cover everything up with a wet paper towel. To enjoy them at their freshest, please consume them within 48 hours.