Guernsey

Let there be Lobsters (or Crabs)

I know I am quite lucky to have a signifcant other who likes foraging as much as I do. Yesterday morning we woke up and our first big connundrum was to decide what to do with the day. Queue mutual foraging passion – my suggestion to go lobstering at the Lihou Causeway was met with enthusiasm and so began the adventure.

Lihou island

Lihou is an island off the west coast of Guernsey and it is connected to our mainland at low tide by a Causeway that was built a few centuries ago by a seaweed farmer. When I first arrived in Guernsey my work colleagues took me on a guided walk of the causeway and the island which was part of the Floral Guernsey festival. It was fascinating to learn how the causeway itself was built – precise planning required due to the vast tides in this area. There are some other interesting things on Lihou Island such as a wild bird reserve (therefore no doggies allowed on the island), ruins of a monastery, a natural swimmingpool called The Venus Pool, and also the house which can be rented out as a mini holiday camp for groups. Find out more about Lihou island on the dedicated Visit Guernsey page. You must also carefully check when the causeway is open because it can be very dangerous if you get caught when the tide comes in. Here is the website that lists opening and closing times.

From previous Ormering experiences my partner knew that there are some “lobster rocks” along the Causeway and so after fashioning ourselves our own lobstering pole we started scrambling over seaweed and through tide pools seeking out a lobster of our own. The tide was approximately 1.3 metres so not nearly as low as an Ormering tide and as such the lobsters remained under cover, but we did find some other intriguing creatures…

And as we made our way to here and there along the causeway, peering under rocks and within the forests of seaweed, we happened upon something very exciting – two spider crabs! We checked that neither were carrying “berries” – aka eggs, and popped them into our bucket. Having acknowledged that there would be no lobsters we were also on the lookout for Velvet Swimming Crabs which is something we have talked about trying for some time. Really quite interestingly these small crabs are not often consumed in the UK despite being very common. In fact, they have often been viewed by crab fishermen as pests and are discarded when found in crab pots. I learned this from the internet while seeking a recipe for these crabs – recipes are also in short supply – but the Spanish seem to enjoy these crabs (an essential part of the Galician seafood menu) and so I was eager to sample them for myself. They really are quite fierce looking (and are quite the warriers whenever I have come face to face with them in a tidepool), but once cooked they were deliciously sweet, particularly with a bit of homemade garlic mayonnaise on the side (recipe from River Cottage Seaside Handbook). Here and here are two similar recipes using Velvet Swimming Crab.

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