Bulots mayonnaise

Bulots, Whelks, escargot de Bruxelles whatever name you know it by, the humble sea snail is an under-rated bit of seafood gold.
iStock 1019951156

Last summer, I scribbled down one of my favourite seafood dishes, Moules a la Creme, and to my surprise not only did people read it – some actually enjoyed it (and it shows up in search results for the site every day). Inspired by such slight encouragement, here is some more super sea fare that is all too often overlooked, the humble whelk.

For most Brits, the whelk is something that comes pre-cooked, soused in vinegar and is found forlornly drying out on the counter of the seafood stalls when you make a trip to the beach. For me, if you’re going to eat whelks in this way, you may as well not bother. Give me the fresh stuff any day.

I accept, my whelk passion makes me something of a food dissident at Maison Hargreaves. So when I’m shopping, I generally buy for one – you can adjust quantity depending on how many you are serving.

Here’s my preferred way to prepare:


  • 1/2 kg bulots (whelks)
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • Sprig of thyme
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper corns

For the mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Approx 300ml olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon or 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Sea salt and ground pepper to taste


Clean the whelks in salt water. Make sure they are submerged and then rinsed with clean water a few times. This process will encourage them to disgorge any sand that is inside the shell.

Place them in a pan with 1.5 litres of water. Add the wine, pepper, thyme and parsley. Add salt to taste and bring to the boil – then cover and reduce heat to simmer.

Whelks do not need a huge amount of cooking and the longer they are exposed to heat the tougher, and more rubbery, they become. I generally give them between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the size of of the shell.

Drain and allow to cool.

homemade Dijon mayonnaiseFor the mayonnaise: In a bowl whisk the egg yolk and mustard until smooth. Slowly add around two thirds of the olive oil whisking constantly. Continue until the mix is thick and forms soft peaks.

Add the salt, one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice and whisk in the remaining olive oil. Once the mix is consistent, place in the fridge. Crush your garlic clove and add to the mayonnaise mix.

Unlike shop-bought products, you can adjust to your taste by adding more lemon juice, salt, or garlic.

This is probably the part of the recipe in which I should add some photos, but my camera skills are sadly lacking … and even with simple recipes I can reduce a tidy kitchen to chaos. Therefore as a bonus, here is a quick alternate take on bulots mayonnaise.

The lazy way

  • Prepare the whelks as above
  • Home made mayonnaise
  • 1 large glass of Muscadet
  • A chair
  • No further plans for the day

If you enjoyed this recipe or enjoy seafood read this suggestion for Moules a la creme

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 4:51 pm Recipes