Earlier this year, engineers found that limpets’ teeth were strongest biological material ever tested. Limpets use a tongue bristling with tiny teeth to scrape food off rocks and into their mouths.
The limpet has long been a symbol of prosperity and regeneration, admired for its tenacity. The tenacity of a limpet is also spoken of in a pejorative sense, as in ‘clinging like a limpet.’ Interestingly, the Oxford English Dictionary refers to ‘officials alleged to be superfluous but clinging to their offices.’ In 1905, Lord Spencer apparently had some pertinent criticisms to make of the Limpet Government.
Foraging for limpets entails a bit of effort and preferable a sharp blade to prise from the rocks, although a sharp stone will work if you go the beach unprepared.
Around 40 limpets
2 potatoes diced into 1 cm squares
1 chopped red pepper
1 diced carrot
Half an ear of sweetcorn or small can
Small handful of chopped sea lettuce
1 Tbls butter
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of thyme
Salt and Pepper
- Wash the limpets, removing any debris. Put limpets in a pan with a 100ml water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2 minutes and leave to cool.
- When limpets are cool enough to handle, pull from the shells and separate the black sack from the meaty foot of the winkle. Discard the black sack. Dice the foot of the limpet.
- Put butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add diced potatoes, one finely chopped shallot, chopped red pepper, a diced carrot, a chopped clove of garlic, half an ear of corn (or small can), zest of a lemon and a pinch of thyme.
- Sauté for a few minutes until lightly browned. Add 100ml white wine and 100 ml water and continue to cook until potatoes are soft.
- Add chopped sea lettuce and limpets. Add milk. Bring to the boil and add a dash of Tabasco sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.