What are percebes? Learn about rare seafood from Portugal

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Percebes (goose barnacles) are luxury seafood from Portugal. Read further to learn more about percebes, their harvesting process, taste and consumption. 

What are percebes?

Portuguese percebes (or perceves) or English goose barnacles are exquisite  looking, rare and expensive seafood found in Portugal. Gooseneck barnacles are crustaceans that cling to rocks in their larval stage and stay there for the entire life span. They can be found inside caves and other hard surfaces of rocks and flatsome along the coast of Atlantic Ocean. They are especially famous in Algarve in the south of Portugal as well as in Galicia, a northern part of SpainBecause of the way they look, they are sometimes called Lucifer’s fingers.

The best and the most expensive percebes are the big, well grown ones with the most meat.  They mostly thrive in dangerous and difficult to access spots.

What are percebes? Percebes growing on the wall of cave in Sagres region
Goose barnacles growing inside grotto in Algarve


How are percebes harvested?

Those goose barnacles are picked by experienced percebeiros who understand well the dynamic of the ocean and have enough skills to access them.Since they are rare, the fishermen really need to know the right place to get the good quality ones. Many times it is necessary to dive as they like to grow underneath water especially in places hit by big waves. Harvesting percebes is manual, dangerous and time-consuming process therefore the price of goose barnacles is high. 

You can learn a little bit more about the process in the video below.

How much do percebes cost?

The price of percebes can go up to 100 euros a kilo and it is that high because of the manual and dangerous harvesting process.  Goose barnacles an absolute must eat for seafood lovers and those who like to experiment with new flavours and local cuisine. 

How do you eat percebes?

Percebes are an excellent choice for fans of seafood. They taste like the ocean and many people compare the experience with eating  something between lobster and clam.

Eating cooked goose barnacles is quite easy. In order to access the flash you need to grab a barnacle in hand and squeeze it. Eat the inner tube that will appear.

Goose barnacles percebes cooked in water
Cooked percebes Portugal


Where can I try percebes in Portugal?

You can try percebes in good restaurants that specialize in seafood. You can also buy them at local fish markets and prepare them at home.

Where in Portugal can I see percebes in their natural environment?

Did you get inspired to try goose barnacles? If you are curious how they look in their natural environment, please book a tour with us. We will do our best to show you where and how percebes grow. We do a kayaking tour starting at Praia da Ingrina beach in Vila do Bispo, Algarve in southern Portugal. We paddle through caves where you can see percebes growing on the walls. Make reservation now!

Goose barnacles percebes in Algarve
Gooseneck barnacles percebes found on kayak tour with South Kayaks

This Post Has 4 Comments

    1. South Kayaks

      Thanks! I have been diving and getting them for years now. They are local food here in the Algarve.

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