whelk

Pronunciation: [HWEHLK; wehlk]

This member of the gastropod branch of the mollusk family is a large marine snail. It has a beautiful spiraled shell and a rather tough but flavorful footlike muscle. Although the waved whelk is found along America's northern Atlantic coast, it has never gained wide popularity in the United States. Knobbed whelks and channeled whelks are also marketed in the States. Fresh whelks are generally available in the spring and fall. They're also available cooked, preserved in vinegar and canned. Because of their lack of popularity, whelks may be difficult to find except in Chinese or Italian markets or specialty food stores. Whelk is naturally tough and must usually be tenderized by pounding. It benefits from brief, gentle cooking. The Italians refer to whelk as scungilli, and the famous scungilli marinara is a garlicky dish of whelk cooked in a tomato sauce flavored with basil, oregano and hot pepper seeds.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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