Crepidula fornicata Calyptrea chinensis
this shellfish has an oval bell-shaped shell, about 5 cm (2”) in size, ending in a hook like a Phrygian cap;
beige in colour, the slipper limpet is speckled with brownish-red or brownish-orange spots;
they are found, not in bunches, but embedded one on the other, forming a pile of twelve or more;
the slipper limpet at the bottom of the pile is always attached to something, such as a stone or the valve of another mollusk;
the slipper limpet is first born male and then turns female as it ages. The pile shows the different layers of the growth stages: at the bottom the old females on which rest the young females, topped by the old males, and then the young males on the top of the pile.
The Bane of Fishermen
The slipper limpet has invaded the European coast all the way to Spain, especially along the coasts of Brittany and Normandy. It feeds by filtering water and consuming a large quantity of plankton, thus chasing away mussels and oysters, which are also filtering mollusks, from their original environment.
Easy to find, the slipper limpet attaches itself at a shallow level, not more than 10 m deep. At low tide, they can be easily collected.
What’s the best way to fight their invasion? Eat them!
Its meat is more tender than the limpet; it is delicate and requires only minimal cooking;
it has a slightly nutty taste that should be brought out;
its flavor is subtle and should not be masked;
so, based on these 3 principles: brush the shell;
place the slipper limpets into a cold light court-bouillon; place on the heat and cook for 3 minutes after it comes to the boil; remove and drain immediately;
shell the slipper limpets; do not cook again or reheat!
serve warm on a mild lettuce (frisée, Boston, etc.); drizzle with a light vinaigrette (made without mustard);
do not use olive oil, whose flavor is too assertive, but instead choose hazelnut oil or a vegetable oil flavored with a few drops of sesame oil or a pinch of curry;
or pour the cooking court-bouillon into deep dishes; place the slipper limpets on toast spread with aioli;
if you find the taste is too strong and you’re collecting the slipper limpets yourself, do some tests: take 6 slipper limpets from the bottom of the pile (females), and 6 slipper limpets from the top (male) and compare the flavor. You’ll discover the nuances that make all the difference.
Hints & Tips