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May 15, 2011 02:20 PM

Whatever Happened to Scungili (aka Whelks)?

Haven't seen it around for 15 years or so.

Long before calamari (squid) became such a restaurant & seafood market staple, one could find Scungili Salad &/or Scungili over Linguini in even the smallest Italian eatery, & both canned & fresh-cooked scungili was easily found in grocery stores & fish markets. I know for the longest time it was considered a "trash" shellfish - something to be tossed back by commercial shellfishers - which is what made it such an economical buy. And it was so DELICIOUS.

So anyone know what happened? Because just out of the blue it seems to have completely disappeared except for the occasional online (& relatively expensive) canned source.

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  1. Hmm, I still see it all the time in Staten Island....are there any Italian markets near you? Try there. I've seen the cans (it's a light blue and white can, can't remember the brand), and I've seen the fresh stuff in fish markets around there, too. Definitely try an Italian store.

    3 Replies
      1. re: steam638

        Yes, LaMonica brand used to be a staple on my pantry shelf for an impromptu pasta delight, but alas no more unless I want to buy off of Amazon, which I just might spring for..

      2. re: italia84

        Wow, reading this thread has enlightened me! I grew up on Staten Island and when my family went to an Italian restaurant (Rocky's if you are as old as me and remember :) I would always order scungilli. After I left the Island, I never saw it again. The enlightenment part is for 45 years, I have thought that scungilli was squid - ha ha ha! Never too old to learn something! (keep in mind, I ate it from ages maybe 7-18, way before I had any idea about being a chowhound!)

      3. Fresh Scungilli is readily available in all the Chines fish markets in Manhattan and also in many restaurants in Chinatown.

        I do not recommend purchasing any of the frozen varieties available. After cooking, they shrink down next to nothing.

        2 Replies
        1. re: fourunder

          Sorry, but it's totally & completely NORMAL for uncooked scungilit to shrink substantially during cooking.

          And frankly, 99.9% of the frozen scungili available (when it is), is already cooked, since it's normally cooked during the process of removing it from its shell.

          1. re: Breezychow

            Frankly, if you haven't seen it in 15 years how could you possibly know anything about scungilli.sources and products.

        2. In Maine they're called Pickled Winkles" and are very common.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Passadumkeg

            Well, there's absolutely nothing "pickled" about what I'm looking for. And what I'm looking for aren't known as "winkles" - even in Maine. I've had them in Maine, & they've always been called "scungilit" or "whelks".

            I think you're thinking of the small Periwinkles or maybe even Moon Snails.

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                La Monica Brand canned Scungilli is over $15.00/can at a local full line Italian grocery in St Pete, Mazzaro's.

                1. re: ospreycove

                  buy it in Providence at the Italian markets (fresh, frozen, and best of all, made into wonderful scungilli salad). buy it frozen at the chinese markets in Boston.

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    Which would be wonderful if I lived in Boston. Unfortunately I live in Culpeper, Virginia.