'Lucifer's fingers' are a delicacy in Portugal — and fishermen are risking their lives to catch them
- Fishermen on the coast of Portugal risk their lives to catch barnacles on rocky shores.
- These barnacles, known as Lucifer's fingers, are a type of crustacean that is considered a delicacy in Europe.
- The profession is considered one of the most dangerous in the world among the Portuguese.
- For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.
Following is a transcript of an episode of Business Insider Today.
These sea creatures are known as Lucifer's fingers.
The barnacles are a delicacy in Europe, but catching them isn't easy.
Fishermen risk their lives to find them, climbing over slippery cliffs and through caves, all while facing strong currents and waves.
Here in Portugal, some people call it one of the most dangerous professions in the world.
Paulo Lourenço, fisherman: "This profession is considered one of the most dangerous in the world because we work where the sea meets the rocks. You can only find the barnacles where the waves break, and that's where we go."
"Unfortunately, people don't appreciate all the sacrifices we make to capture them when they have a plate of it on the table."
Paulo goes out to harvest every day of the week during the season.
Lourenço: "We can either go over the rocks or we go by boat. We can only go by boat when the sea conditions really allow it. Ninety percent of the time, we have to use ropes, because the rope is our security. We have to know the coast really well to know where we place the rope or where we place the stick so we can go down safely. Because one thing is certain. We go down there, but we never know if we will return."
Paulo catches up to 10 kilos a day. He can sell that for about $660.
At Bon Bon restaurant in southern Portugal, a Michelin-star chef has made barnacles a specialty.
Louis Anjos, chef, Bon Bon: "It is the seafood that perhaps, in my opinion, represents the flavor of the sea the most. Often when I see a foreigner ordering the barnacles, their first reaction is, 'How do I eat this?' I've seen them eating it with the shell and everything. And I go, 'Don't eat it with the shell, please.'"
"Barnacles are one of the simplest things to cook, but there are rules, too. When we have the chance to use seawater, we cook them in seawater. When it's not possible, we put in 34 grams or 35 grams of salt per liter of water. We cook for 15 to 20 seconds depending on the size, remove them, cool them, peel them, and serve them. In the end, the barnacles are exceptional because of [the process]. It is simple."
"But as I usually say, the barnacle deserves all the respect in the world because it takes a lot of hard work to catch a good one and it's very dangerous. So in the kitchen, we have to respect the product."
Lourenço: "We really are in great danger. But the passion, the freedom, the feeling of seeing the sea, watching nature, and being able to do something we like - it is something that no one can explain. It's all those factors together that make me so passionate for the profession. I don't see myself doing anything else."
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