Poached Whelks

By: The Local Palate
Two shelling tools sit on top of a huge pile of oysters and shells.

Chef Dean Neff of Seabird in Wilmington, North Carolina shares advice on how to prepare this particular mollusk. “These carnivorous mollusks live in the shallow waters and mud along Masonboro Island and other marshy landscapes on the Southeastern coast,” Neff says. “Whelks need to be blanched and shocked, removed from the shell, trimmed, and then returned to a low/ no-acid aromatic stock/court bouillon to slowly simmer for 1½ to 2 hours. Once cooked they are best served shaved thinly or minced.”

Read about Dean Neff’s sea foraging outing with Ana Shellem here.

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Yields 3 whelks

  • For the whelks:
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 3 whelks in shell
  • Court Bouillon
  • 1 leek, trimmed and washed
  • 2 celery stalks
  • ½ fennel bulb, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5-10 shiitake mushroom stems
  • 1 sheet kombu (optional)
  • 1 wine cork (optional)
  1.  In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, bring 3 quarts of water seasoned with sea salt to a gentle boil. Fully submerge whelks and boil gently for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preparean ice bath. Use grill tongs to transfer whelks to ice bath and let cool completely, then remove and let dry.
  2. Prepare court bouillon: While whelks cool, bring 2 quarts water to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Once
    boiling, add all ingredients, including cork. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. To remove whelk from shell, use a sturdy fork to grip the meat and slowly pull whelk while simultaneously
    twisting shell in the opposite direction. Transfer whelks to a cutting board. Trim thoroughly to remove all parts except solid white muscle and black outer coating.
  4. Submerge whelks in court bouillon and simmer gently for 1½ to 2 hours, or until a cake tester can easily pierce entire muscle. Remove pot from heat and let whelks cool completely in stock.
  5. Once cool, transfer whelks to a cutting board and use a sharp knife or mandolin to thinly slice against grain of muscle. Shaved whelk should look like little coins.
  • Created by Ana Shellem of Shell'em Seafood Company in Writghtsville Beach, North Carolina
  • Contributing City
    Outer Banks

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