This heavy shelled whelk was introduced from the
Sea of Japan and is now found from Monterey, California south around the
tip of Baja California into the Gulf of California. They are both
scavengers, eating practically anything dead or injured, but are also
aggressive predators, feeding on various bivalves, snails, barnacles
and other sea life. They compete directly with starfish for food, and
are sometimes eaten by starfish.
The photo specimens were purchased live
from a large Asian market in San Gabriel California. The largest was
5.25 inches long and weighed 8.2 ounces. These whelks are good eating
in soups and seafood stews.
More on Sea Snails
sf_gpwhelkkz 061025 - www.clovegarden.com
Removed from shell
Finding the mouth
Splitting the gut
- Let your whelks relax for a while, then check them to make sure they're
alive. If you poke them they should respond by pulling tighter into their
shells. Discard any dead ones and scrub the live ones under cold running
water with a stiff brush to remove extraneous muck and miscellaneous
- Let the whelks relax while you boil up a big pot of salted water, then
toss them in and bring it back up to a boil as quickly as possible. Once
it's back to a boil let them cook for about 15 minutes.
- Cool the whelks in cold water until you can handle them easily. you
can use any appropriate tool to get under the operculum (the hard door
that closes after the snail) and pull it out of the shell. The whole snail
may come out intact, or the edible part may break off leaving the rest
in the shell. The photo to the left shows the complete contents of the
shell but separated into edible (right) and inedible parts (left).
- Under cold running water wash out any gooky stuff. Rubbery stuff is all
edible including siphons and that funny orange thing, but gooky parts are
- Find the whelk's mouth. It's right between two short tentacles. The
photo shows the operculum below, the foot facing you and the mouth just
above the foot. Now insert your filleting knife into the mouth sharp side
up and split the gut open so you can wash out the last of the gooky stuff.
- Pull off the operculum and you should now have a nice clean and edible
hunk of whelk. In general it's not so tough as to need pounding unless you
want it extra tender.You can eat it immediately or freeze for later.
- Note: if everything didn't pull out of the shell but you want
to keep the shell, fill it with water a couple of times and shake it
vigorously mouth end down.
©Andrew Grygus - firstname.lastname@example.org - Photos
on this page not otherwise credited © cg1
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