This maybe the scariest name of a meal you may have ever heard but the delicacy is very popular and it does not even come cheap. It is called Lucifer’s Fingers.
The delicacy consists of gooseneck barnacles and they grow on the rocks of Portugal’s most south-western coastline. They are known as Lucifer’s Fingers due to their thick, finger-like trunks and their eerie claw-like feet.
They are sometimes referred to as the truffles of the sea, both because of their rarity and high price, but also because of how hard and risky they are to harvest.
Restaurants in Portugal and Spain charge up to $115 for a plate of Lucifer’s Fingers, which may sound sound outrageously expensive two some people, but is justified by their rarity and the dangers barnacle hunters expose themselves to when harvesting them. Lucifer’s Fingers, or percebes, cannot be farmed and only thrive on the on rocks in the ocean intertidal zone, where crashing waves provide them with plankton. This makes them notoriously dangerous to harvest, with hunters risking getting crushed against the rocks by crashing waves, or being rendered unconscious by the impact and drowning.
“Never turn your back on God when you dive for Lucifer’s fingers,” commercial diver João Rosário told BBC last year. “When you dive for percebes and you turn your back on the unpredictability of the ocean, you will most likely be injured or killed. There are many cases of divers being knocked unconscious and drowning. The ‘lucky ones’ get away with breaking an arm or leg or suffering abrasions where the rocks cut through their wetsuits.”
Despite their name and unappetizing appearance, Lucifer’s Fingers are considered delicacies by sea food lovers who swear that the title of “truffles of the sea” is not wasted on them. The generally agreed way of cooking them is by boiling them in salt water for just about a minute. After that, they should be spooned on ice to stop the cooking process. Then they are ready to be served.
Commercially viable gooseneck barnacles are also being harvested on the coast of Vancouver Island, in Canada, but it’s a small scale operation compared to Spain and Portugal.
So when you travel to Portugal you can ask for Lucifer’s Fingers. It might taste far better than the name sounds.