Why feature a sea snail recipe?
We've been having some fun with sea snails at the resort recently.
A few function organisers have been asking for tu hai clams, so may scallops, pigeons and sea snails.
Many hotels tend to not offer such 'local' items, but we have local speciality and VIP menus featuring local dishes, as long as they;re legal and ethical.
Da Nang specialty items are quite a hot seller for us.
If the guest wants a sea snail recipe made, for a function we'll add it to the menu and get them in live on the day
I often eat snails on my travels. In Dubai the large French garden snails are popular grilled in their shells with garlic and herb butter.
In Thailand we grabbed big delicious freshwater snails out of the lily ponds of Bun Rueng.
In Cambodia they have smaller sized ones in the rivers running through Phnom Penh which were trundled up and down Sisowath Quay in big bamboo trays by street vendors. Tasty but sometimes a bit dodgy on the stomach due to the river silt. I heard of issues but I was fine.
In Da Nang small and medium sized snails are a common street food and bar snack, sold in big steamers or braising tubs scented with lemongrass, chilli and pandanus.
I've never had a problem with them hygiene-wise in Danang, and they're very tasty.
There are quite a few types of edible sea snails available here on the street and in restaurants.
1/. The snails we prefer
are in a shell around the size of a squash ball, maybe smaller.
They have a meaty chunk of snail inside – much more satisfying, tender and easy to eat than the others in my humble opinion.
They're normally served in bun oc noodles, and on the streets the favourite sea snail recipe is simply steamed with chilli and lemongrass
2/. Tiger conch 'snails'
these are a jumbo size sea snail – a Venti if I were to refer to it in Starbucks terms.
It's basically a huge sea conch, but gets called a snail over here because of the type of shell.
Tiger snails are a bit tough unless you tenderise or braise them for a few hours in a delicious broth or gravy
The local style in Vietnam is to blanch then slice thinly, marinate and grill.
They could probably sell well if you give away a free pack of dental floss with each order. I think it's too tough done like that.
I've had a fair bit of success in the past cooking them sous vide style with aromats in a vacuum pack.
After 16 hours of slow poaching at 64C, allow to cool, then chill and then slicing them very thin like carpaccio. Top with a dressing and some garnish.
Without sous vide, they have to be poached at a very low temperature sealed in a vac pac with aromats for at least 3-4 hours to give them a nice texture for eating.
You could also pound them and tenderise like scnitzel, then season, flour and fry, then braise in a sauce or gravy to finish.
Another great way is to dice and stew very slowly with turmeric, shallots, green banana, lime leaf, lemongrass.
3/. Annoyingly small snails
Finally there are snails about the size of a small fingernail.
They're annoyingly small for me, but I'm a fussy old man who doesn't like working too hard when I'm eating.
A wee kid about 6 years old sits outside my apartment in the summer months with several kilos of the tiny snails, grabbing them one by one in his little fingers, snipping a third of the shell off with a huge pair of old but sharp scissors.
That makes them easy to suck out of the shell. Poor little dude. But he still has 10 regular sized fingers.There isn't much OHS awareness here.
His Mum and Dad had a corner stall on Bac My Anh beach doing a roaring trade in steamed snails, accompanied by vast quantities of cheap beer with ice.
Little kiddy number one was the main 'snail-preparation consultant' for this booming enterprise.
We chose to make a cracking Vietnamese salad of the perfect-sized #1 sea snails described above.
Danang Sea Snail salad
- Medium sized sea snail meat. (Or whole snails, boil & refresh then and pull the meat out of the shells)
- Crispy fried shallots
- Large chilli
- Fresh coriander
- Spring onion
- Mint leaves – small round leaves, Vietnamese or Thai style is best
- Fresh limes – squeezed for juice
- Shallot oil (from frying shallots)
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- Shredded carrot
- Lemongrass (for blanching and tossing through salad)
First boil some water seasoned with salt and crushed lemongrass.
This is for blanching and cooking the snail meat
Reserve some of the soft white internal lemongrass stalk for chopping finely and tossing through the salad.
When the lemongrass smell is fully infused in the water, turn upto a rolling boil, and pass the snail meat through it several
times until fully cleaned and then turn down and poach/simmer 2-3 minutes maximum until fully cooked through.
Don't boil too long or they'll become tough.
Toss salad ingredients through, and season to taste with salt, pepper, lime juice.
Toss lightly with shallot oil (optional)
No need to put the shallot oil if you want fat free. Use fish sauce instead and this sea snail recipe will still be fresh and tasty without oil.
Serve with deep fried sesame 'banh trang' rice crackers. These crackers can also be grilled fat free
Tell us about your favourite snail dish. And please share this page if you liked it