October is National Seafood Month – a distinction proclaimed by Congress over 30 years century ago to recognize one of our nation’s oldest industries. Government figures show that nationwide, the seafood industry supports 1.2 million jobs contributes $61 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
In Rhode Island, the seafood industry supports over 3,147 jobs and an economic impact of $419.83 million, according to a report by the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation.
To kick off the month, we’re featuring a few tasty ways to consume aquatic invasive species you should try!
The common perwinkle, related to limpets, whelks, and other marine snails, is the most common snail found in Rhode Island and found on rocky beaches.
The common periwinkle, related to limpets, whelks, and other marine snails, is the most common snail in Rhode Island
The Common Periwinkle is believed to have made its way to the US attached to large rocks used as ballast on British ships in the 1860’s.
Although there was never much demand for periwinkles in the US in the 19th century, thousands of tons were shipped to London markets, where they were sold in “winkle shops.”
They’re still enjoyed in British seaside resorts with vinegar and a cup of tea
Thanks to our friends Eating with the Ecosystem, their robust cookbook, Simmering the Sea, you can find how to steam periwinkles or how to add them to your other favorite seafood dishes.
Flavor: salty, sweet
Texture: delicate, soft, creamy
Sustainability level: These little snails aren’t commonly consumed, so have at it.
What to look for: If buying from a store, look for a market with circulating water tanks, since this means they have lots of turn over and less chance of purchasing dead periwinkles. When you’re sorting through your haul, smell can give away a dead periwinkle, as can a poke to their operculum, the hatch that closes the shell. If they respond to a poke with a toothpick, they are alive. If they’re dead, the operculum is usually pulled up inside the shell. Discard dead periwinkles.
Recipe: Serves 4
- 2 lbs periwinkles, scrubbed and rinsed
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic (Tip: use a microplane)
- 7 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, separated into stalks and leaves
- ½ pound butter, cut into cubes
- Salt to taste
- 1 lemon, cut into quarters
- Several slices of crusty sourdough bread for serving
Place a large saucepan over high heat on the stove. Mix periwinkles, wine, garlic, thyme, and parsley stalks in a bowl. Once the saucepan is extremely hot, add ingredients and cover. Steam for 2-3 minutes. Remove periwinkles using a slotted spoon and set aside. Lower heat to medium and reduce liquid to ¼ cup, Strain into a saucepan. Over extremely low heat, whisk in butter, a few cubes at a time, until emulsified. Finely chop parsley leaves and add to the saucepan. Season with salt. Place periwinkles in a shallow serving bowl. Pour butter sauce over periwinkles and serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread. Use a toothpick to scoop out the flesh from the shells.
You can also make this recipe with clams, littlenecks, whelks, shrimp, mussels, and lobster.
“Periwinkles have a sweet, briny flavor I would compare to a steamer clam … they make an excellent appetizer or snack, and can add a nice flavor to other seafood dishes such as seafood stews and sauces.”
Like the common perwinkle, the European Green Crab also made its way to Rhode Island shores over 200 years ago via the ballast of ships and has become one of the most common crabs along New England shores.
The green crab is an aggressive fighter, often called the “angry crab,” and moves quickly. They aren’t known for their copious amount of meat, but make a great base for soups or curries.
Green Crab Curry
A delicious hard shell green crab recipe from our friends at GreenCrab.Org and Our Wicked Fish.
This green crab curry utilizes the whole green crab and can be made with hardshell crabs in any season.
- Wash 12 large green crabs.
- Boil in water for 5 minutes.
- Save 2 cups of the liquid and let liquid and crabs cool.
- Remove legs, apron, and carapace. Save the roe/mustard from inside the carapace.
- Place the bodies in a blender with the 2 cups of cooking liquid. Pulse together a few times then blend.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer and check to make sure this concentrate is free of shells (they will settle at the bottom).
1 small onion, diced
2 Tbs of garam masala
1/2 Tbs of ground ginger
2-3 Tbs of your favorite curry paste
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of coconut cream
1 cup of crab concentrate
roe (or ‘mustard’?) from 12 green crabs
1 Tbs of fish sauce
2 Tbs of brown sugar
Add 2 Tbsp of oil to a large pot and add onion. Season with salt and cook on medium-low heat until translucent and fragrant. Add garam masala, ginger, and curry paste. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes then add coconut milk, coconut cream, and crab concentrate, and roe/mustard. Gently mix together all ingredients and let simmer for 20-30 minutes on low uncovered. Stir occasionally every few minutes to avoid scorching. It should thicken up nicely. Add fish sauce and brown sugar. Cook for a few more minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings (curry paste, salt, etc.) as desired. Add crab meat, bamboo shoots, and/or corn and let it all cook through. Serve on top of vegetables, fish, or white rice. Finish with diced scallions, bean sprouts, and cilantro.
green crab meat
More Seafood Recipes
Discover more seafood recipes and where can you buy local, Rhode Island seafood.