Updated: Oct 30, 2021
Whelks are seasonally available at this time of year, but actually I don't think we've seen them on the market stall so far. I think there are a few of us fans and when we put our voices together whelks are known to appear.
As it happened, I had a few cooked whelks in the freezer (I personally think they freeze very well) and I was really looking forward to making these fritters again. It's a recipe from The River Cottage Fish Book, and in the book Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher (such an apt surname) claim that this recipe "... has been known to convert even the most diehard whelk sceptic". I can well believe it!
A lemony mayonnaise to accompany these whelk fritters is a suggestion from the book. It does work very well. The key is to focus on the zest of the lemon rather than just it's juice. Tartare sauce would also go very nicely.
Ingredients (makes about 10 fritters)
100g whelk meat, cooked, cleaned and trimmed (about 20 whelks)
2 or 3 rashers of bacon, finely diced
1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
¼ tsp curry powder
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
½ tsp thyme leaves, finely chopped
2 eggs, separated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sunflower or vegetable oil
Dice the whelk meat - the finer you do this, the easier it is to make the fritters hold together.
Fry the bacon in a little oil until golden and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the chopped onion or shallot. Allow both to cool enough to handle.
In a bowl, mix together the whelk meat, onion or shallot, breadcrumbs, garlic, curry powder, herbs, egg yolks and salt and pepper.
Whisk the egg whites to the stage of soft peaks and fold into the whelk mixture. Use your hands to create a sort of minced-meat sort of texture.
Heat oil in a frying pan and form the whelk mixture into small patties, no bigger than the size of a golf ball, but somewhat flatter. Fry on both sides for about 30 seconds and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve the fritters straightaway with something to dip them in. For example the lemony mayonnaise.
Lemony mayonnaise: Obviously home-made mayonnaise is best, but there is some stuff beginning with 'H'. Add some finely grated lemon zest and just a little squeeze of lemon juice. Top with a pinch of smoked paprika, it has a small but pleasing effect.
"The River Cottage Fish Book", Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Nick Fisher (2011), pp. 328: https://www.amazon.co.uk/River-Cottage-Fish-Book/dp/1408814293