Wakey wakey, hands off snakey!
Two years ago this old dog learned a few new tricks in Southeast Asia to throw in the snake-handling repertoire bag.
And I mean that in the most decent and innocent way.
It was all pretty swift and painless.
Back to 'the death of a snake"…..
BOOF! on the head with a massive smack of the bag, and he was sent to wiggle on his belly in a better place.
This wasn't about spiritual purification or some vague and archaic ritual. The skin is charred to make it easier to remove and to give the snake some taste from the wood. It also firms up the meat and semi cooks it to make the next step easier.
Next step: Scrape the meat clean, pull the skin back and take care of the head http://bit.ly/9vyfK6 (No dirty remarks please. Especially from the British!)
It's the long bloated thingy. Not a technical description but it's important to note that I'm a chef and a traveller, not a biologist or a vet.
The flavours infused into the broth were from Vietnamese mint (pak faai in Thai, or 'rau ram' in Vietnamese) combined with garlic, darkly-toasted dry red chilli crushed into brown aromatic flakes, and toasted dried prickly ash.
Tom Yum snake recipe.
- Snake – whole 1kg
- Water – 3 litres
- Knorr chicken stock cube
- Lemongrass stalk, 1 each crushed and tied into a knot
- Salt flakes – 2 dsp – 30g
- Ajinomoto 'umami' 1/3 tsp or MSG (optional)
- Kaffir lime leaves, – 12 double ones, torn
- Garlic – fresh
- Prickly ash or sichuan pepper, toastedy
- Vietnamese mint
- Roasted or fried garlic
- Spring onion, chopped 2 each
- Coriander, fresh, chopped 1/2 cup
- Kill the snake and char over an open fire until the skin is lightly charred and the size increased by around 25% to 40%
- Scrape the scales off the snake with a fish scaler or the blade of a knife
- Cut off the head and discard it. Gut the snake, and split the intestine and discard the contents
- Cut the snake into lengths that are easy to cook and handle
- Put into a pot with the water, stock cube, lemongrass, salt, 'umami' and torn kaffir lime leaves.
- Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for around 35 minutes.
- Toast the prickly ash or Sichuan pepper in a spoon over a gas flame until aromatic and starting to smoke.Grind to a fine powder.
- Pound the garlic to a paste. Add the Sichuan pepper or prickly ash powder.
- When the snake is cooked, remove it from the soup and drain it.
- Season the soup with toasted red chilli flakes, and the Vietnamese mint and sichuan pepper/prickly ash mix.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.
- Heat a wok with a little oil and stir fry the snake for a minute or two, tossing the fried garlic, the spring onion and the coriander through.
- Add back into the soup and serve.
- To make this into a truly awesome dish, it would be a great idea to put on a pair of fresh food handling gloves and remove the snake meat from the bones before adding it back
- *Truly local; Split the snakes bile sac open and stir it into the soup. This adds a bitter element to it which doesn't taste too bad.