15th October 2013

Shellfish from Normandy

By MaitreMarcel

Last weekend we went to the Normandy coast and ate fish, seafood and shellfish there. We also took some back to prepare at home. I made a platter with oysters, whelks and winkles. The last two you need to cook.
France makes 90 percent of the European production and some of it comes from Veules les Roses, in Haut Normandie. The oyster banks are in the sea, in relatively quiet waters as they would otherwise be damaged, were they filter large amounts of plankton. The oysters are delicate and not very iodine.
Whelks are fished using special pods with dead fish in it as the feast on carcasses. There is an active fishery in the bay of Granville.
The winkles are eaters of algae and are collected at low tide.
Oysters are often presented with some vinegar and diced onions. I usually eat them without anything. One exception was when a restaurant in Granville served an exceptional nice cider vinegar.
You can often buy the whelks and winkles already cooked, but then the taste depends much on the way they have been cooked and preserved.
You can also buy them alive.


  • Six oysters
  • One kilo of whelks
  • One pound of winkles
  • Rock salt
  • Bay leave
  • Dried thyme
  • Pepper corns


  1. Chuck the oysters and set them aside to renew their water.
  2. Put the whelks and winkles separate in large bowls, put them under the tap to start cleaning it a bit, then fill the bowl with water and add a good handful of salt. Let rest for about an hour, then change the water several times. This removes sand and slime.
  3. Make two large pans of stock, using water, bay leaf, dried thyme and pepper corns – you could add the carrot, onion and leek combination for fish but we will not use the stock later.
  4. Once the liquid has cooked, turn down the heat to keep it at boiling point.
  5. Add the shellfish separately. The whelks need at least 20 minutes to cook, the winkles just three minutes.
  6. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking, drain in a sieve and present.
  7. Some people serve it with bread and mayonnaise.