Whelks are hugely underrated across the world. Be careful not to overcook whelks as they can get tough and chewy. This is a dish for eating with your fingers – so always serve with a generous supply of napkins.

Serves 4


  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Whelks, cleaned
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 4 mild red chillies, thinly sliced
  • A small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped


  1. Put the butter in a small saucepan set over a gentle heat and melt until it just starts to foam. Add the garlic and immediately take off the heat. Add a small pinch of salt to season and set aside.
  2. Put the whelks with the white wine, onion and 200ml of water in a large saucepan set over a medium heat. Cover and bring to a simmer, then continue to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chillies, parsley and a generous pinch of salt and black pepper. Toss together to combine.
  4. Spoon the whelks into serving bowls and serve with a side dish of the hot garlic butter, for dipping them into.

Tip: Serve this dish with plenty of napkins to hold the shells and small forks to extricate the whelks from them.