An under-used species, whelks are a sustainable exotic. They are often used in creative ways by chefs, and are popular in Mediterranean countries. They also feature in Korean and Japanese cuisines.
If you take a walk along any beach in Britain you’re likely too see plenty of empty whelk shells. The shells live on long after the whelk has died, and often become homes for hermit crabs.
Whelks are caught predominantly in inshore waters by small vessels known as day boats, as they typically only fish for one day at a time. Whelks are caught in baited pots, which vary in design, but are typically circular plastic or steel pots with a funnel shaped mouth, through which the whelk crawls to get to the bait.
Whelks usually arrive at our Mintlaw site in large bags. We inspect them for quality, then cook them in a pressurised steam cooker before removing the shell. The blanched whelk meat is then inspected by hand to ensure only the best quality product is sold. We then bag and freeze the product for delivery to our customers.
Whelk fisheries around the UK are not subject to EU TAC (Total Allowable Catch) under the Common Fisheries Policy. Most whelk fisheries are designated as inshore fisheries and as such many are subject to local controls and restrictions.
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