A mussel & a barnacle
Last night I went to Florent in NYC and ordered mussels. When they came out I noticed a few had barnacles on them, something I have never seen on a mussel in a restaurant before. I have seen barnacles on mussels in a tide pool or on a dock... but not in a garlic and white wine sauce on a plate.
Would you eat a mussel with a barnacle on it? Does anyone know if that is a sign they are a)old or b)dangerous?
You got two delicacies for the price of one! Barnacles grow on anything they can get a foot hold on. When we lived in California, my ex-husband scubaed regularly and brought home everything imaginable. One of the things I used to make was barnacle stew. The only problem with any critter that attaches itself in the ocean is whether they are on or near any pilings or boat hulls that are covered with anti-fouling paint, which is toxic. But there is no danger food supplied to a restaurant would be gathered from such an environment. Barnacles also attach themselves to whales! When we would go sailing (whales like the quiet of sailboats and the interaction with man), the one thing I had to be careful of when whales swam alongside to say hello was petting them and cutting my hand on a barnacle. Never gathered them from a whale though. I was afraid it would damage the whale's skin. Anyway, hope you tried eating the barnacles too..! But on a mussel they were probably too small to bother with.
Absolutely 110% edible. Barnacles are not dangerous, and they do not mean that a mussel is "old." An old mussel isn't indicative of a bad mussel anyway. In fact, if the barnacle is large enough you can eat that too. I've never had the luxury of finding a supply of barnacles in the seafood case, but from what I've heard, they taste similar to scallops.
i love barnacles! when i was a kid, my family used to go clam digging and seaweed picking....my job was to find little crabs and pick barnacles. my mom would braise the crabs in soy sauce and garlic and the barnacles would get boiled and we'd use toothpicks and safety pins to fish out the meat to dip in a spicy sauce. yum yum yum.
There's no reason for concern that I can see, I get them on oysters all the time. It's not common to see them on mussels because, I imagiine, most all mussels are "rope farmed" away from barnacle habitats. I'm sure that to try to remove it would just break the shell and kill the mussel.