Whelks are sea snails that live in the waters of the Atlantic. Their pointy and spiraled shaped shells are quite distinguishable. Make sure they are still alive when you buy them. Give them a light tap on the shell or light shake to see if there is any movement. I bought the whelks at a Korean supermarket and found quite a few with hermit crabs inside, so make sure to check none of them have taken over the shells as their residence…unless you’re looking for a few cheap pets to take home. It’s ok, the thought did cross my mind. While the shells may make whelks seem intimidating to cook, don’t be afraid, it’s really quite easy!
Once back in the kitchen, scrub the shells down to remove dirt and loose pieces of shell. Submerge them in a bowl of water for a few minutes. Drain the water, cover with a damp paper towel and store in the fridge until ready to cook.
I like to dip the tender and slightly chewy flesh in a soy and vinegar mixture. I prepare it while the whelks are cooking.
Whelk Soy/Vinegar Mix Dipping Sauce
- 1 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
- 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger juice
- 1 clove of garlic smashed and finely chopped
Mix the ingredients together and wait about 5 minutes for the garlic flavor and notes to permeate throughout the liquid.