Friday, December 28, 2007

Seven Seafoods 2007: Recipe for Periwinkles in Dill-Onion Wine Broth (Όστρακα “της Πλώρις”)

Periwinkles are usually in stock at Sagaya, our local Asian grocery. I’ve looked at them for years, but Christmas Eve was the first time I bought them. They were delicious; from now on, I will buy periwinkles regularly.

Common periwinkles, Littorina littorea, are small edible sea snails. They are hand harvested from the rocky Maine coast by local periwinkle pickers, shipped to distributors in Boston and then to Alaska, other states, Europe, and Asia.

The flavor is similar to clams, although periwinkle meat is slightly sweeter. Based on their flavor, I would substitute periwinkles for clams in any steamed clam recipe. They were surprisingly tender and easily slipped out of their shells on the point of a toothpick.

Last September we ate at an Athens restaurant called Logia tis Ploris, and enjoyed shellfish cooked in wine with dill and onions. This combination went beautifully with the periwinkles, as it would with any kind of shellfish.

PeriwinklesPeriwinkles in Dill-Onion Wine Broth (Όστρακα “της Πλώρις”)
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 – 6 as an appetizer

2 pounds live periwinkles
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onions, 1/4” dice
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup minced dill
1 cup white wine
Freshly ground black pepper
Wedges of lemon

Wash the periwinkles to remove any sand or dirt.

Using a pot that has a lid and is large enough to hold all the periwinkles, sauté the yellow onion in olive oil until the onion softens and starts to turn golden. Add the periwinkles, green onions, dill, wine, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to evenly distribute the ingredients. Bring the wine to a boil, cover, turn down the heat to medium-low, and cook for 5 minutes, or until the periwinkle meat can easily be slipped out of the shell.

Serve the periwinkles and broth with toothpicks, wedges of lemon, and plenty of crusty bread. To eat the periwinkles, use a toothpick to knock off the operculum, a thin scale that covers the periwinkle’s opening (don’t worry if the periwinkle doesn’t have an operculum; it may have fallen into the broth). Stick the toothpick down into the periwinkle shell, hook the meat, and carefully slide it out of the shell. Eat and enjoy. The broth is delicious and can be eaten with a spoon, or soaked up on pieces of bread.


Peter M said...

Laurie, I've seen periwinkles at my Asian store as well but I've been fearful of thinking they needed much cleaning like snails.

I think I'll give them a go!

Anonymous said...

They have a very cute name, I'll give them that :)

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter, they don't need any cleaning at all (except for the shells, just like clams do). You should definitely try them.

Maryann, I'm serious, they taste great. I understand you being dubious because, like Peter, I avoided them for years. Now I'm a periwinkle fan (and yes, they do have a cute name).

ThreeTastes said...

Wow, you're such a connoisseur of seafood, that after your endorsement, we're going periwinkle hunting in Chinatown next weekend! : )

Laurie Constantino said...

Manju, it's not so much I'm a connoisseur of seafood as I just enjoy them so much! They are always the special occasion meals in our house. And I'm lucky, as you say, to live near the sea x two. Good luck on your perwinkle hunt!