The Dish: Rapa whelks with J.O. mayo ($15)
What It Is: Rapa whelks are sea snails—the less-appreciated escargots of the ocean. Scientists discovered the invasive species, native to Asia, in the Chesapeake Bay in 1998. Now they’re caught in traps to prevent them from feasting on precious baby oysters.
What It Tastes Like: Served neither hot nor cold, these molluscs have a texture that’s similar to raw clams, but tougher and chewier. They’re sweet and mildly briny, with a taste similar to abalone. Which is probably why they’re known as “the poor man’s abalone.”
The Story: At Eat the Rich, the whelks are cleaned thoroughly and poached in wine lemon court-bouillon before being served in the shell. “Whelks are not frequently used,” says chef Julien Shapiro, “but they remind you of an old-world seafood place.” All you need is a dab of mayo mixed with a blend of fennel, celery seed, paprika, salt, and chili flakes from Baltimore-based J.O. Spice Company. “We have developed a reliable craving for J.O.,” Shapiro says. “By comparison, Old Bay is like methadone.”
How to Eat It: Use the pair of tongs Eat the Rich provides—or risk a Pretty Woman moment by sending that shell flying.
Eat the Rich
1839 7th Street NW
This article was previously published in The Washington City Paper.
Mary was born and raised in New York City where her family owned restaurants. Instead of eating dirt on the playground, she ate duck blood, beef tripe and pork belly. She cut her teeth at The Mandarin Oriental and The Ritz-Carlton hotels, working with Barbra Streisand, Vanessa Williams, Michael Stipe, LeVar Burton, Jane Krakowski and others. Mary founded Girl Meets Food in 2009 as a cover for her debilitating addiction to fried chicken and was named Washington Post’s “Favorite Local Foodie.” After 13 years in hospitality, she started freelance writing for USA Today, The Washington Post, Eater, Washington City Paper, and more. Today, she provides digital marketing for hospitality clients as a content creator who’s contently creating content.