Portugal is a country of fish and seafood. Our sea-faring history and our large and beautiful coast has made the ocean a kind of pantry for our kitchens. Everybody is familiar with our cod and sardines, but there are countless other animals that Portuguese people eat that are less well-known. One such species is the limpet, which we call lapas, or the Patella vulgata, if you’re feeling scientific.
I first had lapas when I went to the Azores several years ago. They were served grilled with garlic and butter. They tasted kind of like a chewier clam… with garlic and butter. My husband loves them with lemon juice. The seafood in the Azorean archipelago is phenomenal and provides foodies with ample opportunities to sample new foods, so I recommend limpets if you’ve never had them before. When I went to Madeira earlier this year, I was excited to see they were a regional specialty there as well. In Madeira, however, it’s served with a side of bolo do caco (Madeiran garlic bread).
Lapas are a delicious lunch time treat, especially in the warmer months. If you’re curious to try them but your next trip to the Azores or Madeira isn’t soon enough, check out this simple recipe for Limpets Azorean-style below.
1. Leave the limpets in water (with a bit of salt) overnight so you get rid of excess sand. Change the water as and when required.
2. Finely chop garlic and set to one side.
3. On a hot grill pan, place the limpets, shell down. This means the juices won’t spill out.
4. Add a pinch of the chopped garlic and butter to each limpet.
5. Let them grill until they become unstuck from their shells. Serve hot, in the grill pan (as is customary), with a lemon wedge and a side of good bread (or garlic bread if, like me, you can’t get enough garlic in your meal).
Comment below if you tried this recipe or another limpet recipe before. What did you think? Bom apetite!