A Boke of Gode Cookery Presents

Welkes Boyled

PERIOD: England, 15th century | SOURCE: Harleian MS. 4016 | CLASS: Authentic



Take welkes, and caste hem in colde water, And lete hem boyle but a littul; And caste hem oute of the vessell, And pike hem oute of the shell, and pike awey the horn of hem, and wassh hem and rubbe hem well in colde water and salt, in two or thre waters; And serue hem colde, And caste vppon hem leves of parcelly ywet in vinegre, And sauce to hem is vynegre.

- Austin, Thomas. Two Fifteenth-Century Cookery-Books. Harleian MS. 279 & Harl. MS. 4016, with extracts from Ashmole MS. 1429, Laud MS. 553, & Douce MS 55. London: for The Early English Text Society by N. Trübner & Co., 1888.


  • 4 qts fresh whelks, mussels, clams or other bivalve shellfish, in the shell
  • Water
  • Salt water
  • Wine vinegar to taste
  • Parsley for garnish
1. Clean the shellfish thoroughly, scrubbing them with a stiff brush, and soaking them in two or three changes of salt water for several hours.

2. In a large pot, over high heat, bring half an inch of water to a boil, and put in the shellfish. Cover, and boil for five to eight minutes, until the instant the shells open. Remove them from heat immediately, drain and allow to cool.

3. Pry open the shells and remove the meat, trimming off any inedible portions.

4. Rinse the shellfish in two more changes of salt water, rubbing them with your fingers to remove any remaining sand. Rinse them in plain water, and drain.

5. Put the shellfish in a serving dish, and garnish with sprigs of parsley dipped in vinegar. Sprinkle vinegar over the entire dish before serving.

Serves four to six.


These directions are fairly straightforward and haven't changed much in six hundred years. The same MS recommends this garnish and sauce of parsley and vinegar for boiled shrimp as well.

Welkes Boyled is featured in Servise on a Fisshe Day

Metric, Celsius, & Gas Mark Equivalencies

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Welkes Boyled © 2002 Rudd Rayfield | This page © 2002 James L. Matterer

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