Food Talk And Fabulous Finds - Frozen snail meat, Anyone have experience?




kaplods
08-09-2009, 04:15 PM
On an impulse bought a package of frozen boiled apple snails (imported from Thailand) at a local oriental market. They looked interesting, but I don't have a clue how to prepare them.

I looked up several online recipes, and basically am considering simmering them in a curry or a garlic sauce, but would appreciate any other tips or suggestions.

Any snail fans out there?


walking2lose
08-09-2009, 04:16 PM
I liked escargot when I was a kid in Europe, but they were cooked in butter (maybe garlic butter) and eaten on french bread. I'm not sure if I'm that adventurous anymore.

Let us know what you make.

gt26
08-09-2009, 04:35 PM
I've eaten escargot the French way, with garlic butter, but I've never cooked them. As I recall, they have no strong flavor of their own, so either a curry sauce or garlic sauce sounds like a good choice. Let us know how they turn out!


kaplods
08-09-2009, 04:48 PM
I was reading that snails have more protein (and far less fat) than beef, so they seemed like a good choice at the time. They're thawing in the fridge right now, so we'll see.

I think I may simmer them in a garlic broth (chicken broth, garlic, and a splash of wine, and a smidgen of butter).

kiramira
08-09-2009, 05:02 PM
:barf:

Sorry, I'll stick to beef...

:lol:

Kira

tommy
08-09-2009, 06:41 PM
My Vietnamese friend says she like them lightly cooked and then eaten with a toothpick, dipping into the standard Viet dipping sauce of fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, garlic and hot chili. She said they were eaten like a snack as everyone sits around and chats- well which is how alot of Asian food is eaten. Maybe that is why it appears they eat a ton and are thin- lots of small tastes of different interesting things + lots of walking. Mainly a texture (cheewwy) thing. I have seen them used in Asian brothy soups, and a curry sounds good too. Let us know. I have been thinking of trying them as well.

kaplods
08-09-2009, 08:12 PM
I have to say that I've always enjoyed being a food adventurer. Even as a kid, I was always more adventurous than my parents. I've been reading that it may actually be a genetic trait - it appears to be in rats, at any rate. In general, the more foods a rat is exposed to by it's mother, the more variety it will eat as an adult - but also some strains of rats are more likely to avoid novel foods than others, regardless of upbringing. I was adopted, so it does make me wonder if one or both bio-parent had a relationship with food more like mine than my (adoptive) family's.

At any rate, I figured that "food adventuring" could just as easily be a pro-weight loss tool as a stumbling block.

The other day I made a new "sloppy joe" type recipe with rye berries, black beans, and a lower sugar barbecue sauce. I put it on my blog (and my snail experience will probably go there as well).

http://www.3fatchicks.com/diet-blogs/kaplods/

I love wheat and rye berries. The chewy texture adds a nice almost-meat-like consistency to some recipes. Not that the effect is always meat-like in that I also like them stirred in yogurt, with a bit of sunflower seeds and dried fruit (Yoplait used to make a "breakfast yogurt" that had those ingredients stirred in).

It's funny, though as I explore more traditional "peasant" foods, from my own ancestry, that of my family, as well as other cultures, I find that many of them are quite healthy (at least if I am careful to limit or avoid the high fat/high carb "celebration" or "filler" foods). Many are even low calorie/low carb.

kiramira
08-09-2009, 10:36 PM
But, honestly, snails are just slugs without the shells, no?

I completely admire your guts and adventurism and wish I was more food adventurous, but THIS is where I draw the personal line...

:rofl:

Kira

ANOther
08-10-2009, 01:02 PM
But, honestly, snails are just slugs without the shells, no?

Other way around: slugs are shell-less snails. Not for me either, but YMMV

bargoo
08-10-2009, 01:24 PM
I have tasted escargot, or snails to us common folk . They tasted rubbery and sandy to me.This was at an expensive restaurant.

Onederchic
08-10-2009, 01:29 PM
OT but I gotta ask..what does YMMV mean? :|

HotWings
08-10-2009, 01:41 PM
OT but I gotta ask..what does YMMV mean? :|

I think it means "your mileage may vary" ??

kiramira
08-10-2009, 01:42 PM
Ms Wonder, YMMV means "Your Mileage May Vary" meaning, in forum speak, your results may vary...
and, ya, I should have said SNAILS are SLUGS WITH SHELLS or SLUGS are SNAILS WITHOUT SHELLS!!! :rofl:

I guess I was so creeped out by the idea, I mixed it up!!!!

Still ain't gonna try 'em any time soon!!!

Kira

Onederchic
08-10-2009, 02:23 PM
Thanks :D

kaplods
08-10-2009, 03:14 PM
I find food taboos fascinating. Don't get me wrong, I have my own, but fewer and fewer as I watch shows like Anthony Bourdaine's No Reservations and Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre Foods.

I think it's interesting what people think is "gross." I don't remember if I read it or saw on television, but the author/host visited Africa and after being given and eating curdled cow's blood - he recipricated by offering the tribesmen pieces of cheese - and being told it was curdled cow's MILK, they gagged on it and couldn't eat it.

I think of some of my own old food taboos (such as pig's feet and headcheese). I can't explain why meat from the foot or meat from the head was "different" than meat from the shoulder or the butt, but it was (but it really isn't).

I would have never tried beef tongue if I hadn't been tricked into it. A roommate in college who worked in a jewish deli on breaks, brought back "the best roast beef lunch meat EVER." Only after we were all raving about how tender and wonderful it was, did she tell us it was tongue.

I think that was my first big food taboo epiphany. Tongue was SO delicious, that I wondered what other "weird and gross" foods were also delicious. I've been on a mission to embrace the weirdness ever since.

At first it was mostly theoretical - I read about food taboos, and foods of other cultures, but generally I didn't cross the taboo lines myself. I'd try "weird stuff" once in a while, but mostly only weird "versions" of "normal" food. Eventually, though it started to snowball (really only in the last couple years) to the point that there's not much I wouldn't consider trying under the right conditions. I think I might even try ants (probably not any other insect), because I've seen Andrew eat ants a lot and usually he says they taste like citrus - I could handle that, I think (maybe), especially if it was deep fried and crunchy. Of course, he also loves tarantula (he says they taste like crab). I do love, love, really love crab, but unless all species of crab became extinct, I don't think I could be persuaded to eat tarantula, or any spider.

As for snails, snails and slugs are molluscs, and some are delicious (other tasty moluscs: clams, oyster, mussels, octopus, squid, and cuttlefish). Not all are edible, but those that aren't, wouldn't be in a suburban Wisconsin grocery store.

All molluscs can be chewy and gritty if not properly cleaned and cooked. The escargot I had in the past (only a couple times) were not gritty at all, but were a bit chewy (but not more so than fried clams, which is one of my absolute favorite foods).

Well, I'll be cooking them up today, so I can tell you how the experiment goes, but if they're good, I will be buying them again. Not only is it a healthy, economical protein source, but also a more ecologically sustainable one than beef and other large meat animals (generally, the smaller the animal, and quicker it's reproduction, the more eco-friendly a protein source).

kiramira
08-10-2009, 03:47 PM
Ya, let us know how it goes! And let us know how you cooked them, too, cause you mentioned simmering them in a sauce...

Kira

kaplods
08-10-2009, 05:36 PM
Snail update

Experiment failure: mission aborted

I rinsed the thawed snails in water. They were obviously thoroughly cooked, and cleaned, but very rubbery. The odor was very similar to clams, but a little bit stronger. Not objectionable, so I went on to simmer them in a garlic-wine broth (water, wine, butter, minced garlic, chives, parsley, salt and pepper).

Results:

Flavor: Overall, mildly disappointing, with a pleasant-enough flavor (mostly from the sauce, however). The snail meat had a stronger aroma than flavor, and the combination aroma/flavor was not as mild as clams, but not as strong as cooked mussels or oysters (I don't eat raw shellfish). Expected a lot more flavor than the snail delivered, it was more bland than anything else.

Good news: No grit, so the snails were obviously prepared and cleaned well.

Bad news: Rubbery as pencil erasers. The texture ruined it completey for me. There were a few pieces that were tender enough to eat and enjoy, but the larger pieces were very tough and rubbery.

I attempted to simmer longer to see if it helped - and while it did (I found a few more morsels tender enough to eat), the texture still wasn't enjoyable, and the flavor was so bland, it felt more like I was cooking bits of slightly mussel-scented, but completey tasteless rubber (in a yummy garlic sauce) - not "food-like" enough to warrant continued interest.

Conclusion: I would eat these again only if I was starving or if someone who knew how to make them tender and delicious cooked them (and it's definitely, not me). I will not be rebuying snailmeat.

In hindsight, I probably should have known better. My only previous experience with mollusc-cooking was also a disaster:

I love calimari, so decided to try to make my own. I followed the fishcounterman's suggestion to clean (yuck, broke the inksack, double yuck), slice, and then soak the squid in lemon-lime soda (supposedly tenderizes meat), and to dip in egg and panko and fry for only 20 to 30 seconds, until panko browned.

The result was pretty much similar to the snails today (except there's not much aroma to squid, just a mild salt-water smell). The batter was tasty, but the squid meat was flavorless and inedibly rubbery. Not just chewy like fried clam, but no give at all, like rubber bands (actually, rubberbands probably would have more flavor - they couldn't have less).

I guess I'll leave the mollusk-cooking to the experts (flavored rubber, just not "Good Eats").

gailr42
08-10-2009, 09:03 PM
I think you win a prize for the most unusual "impulse" purchase that I have ever heard of. LOL!

kaplods
08-10-2009, 09:36 PM
I think you win a prize for the most unusual "impulse" purchase that I have ever heard of. LOL!

LOL! I'm not sure it's even my most unusual impulse buy, but it's definitely in the top five.

Dried shredded squid may be the most unusual. I call it "squid candy" or "squid jerky." It's hard to describe, but wikipedia does a good job and has photos
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dried_shredded_squid

The brands I buy are usually a light pink/beige color - I've never encountered the browning problem wikipedia mentions. Some brands have a strong smell, others a more sweet smell (maybe the type or freshness of the squid used).

It's salty, a bit sweet (some brands are too sweet) and a bit fishy (more like crab than fishy fish). There are also spicy versions. I love spicy foods, but s brands are crazy hot. Spicy or not, it really does make a great snack, especially (as wikipedia points out) with an alcoholic beverage.

I've switched from the high sugar brands, to the lower carb varieties. They tend to be stronger smelling (hubby asks me not to eat it while he's in the house), and much more spicy.

kiramira
08-10-2009, 10:15 PM
Glad you posted the update! The ONLY thing I can think of is that the snails were precooked? Usually if shellfish are overcooked, they get rubbery. And I am sure you didn't overcook anything, so maybe they were precooked and you didn't know it???

Gaak...you ROCK!!!

Kira

kaplods
08-10-2009, 10:32 PM
Glad you posted the update! The ONLY thing I can think of is that the snails were precooked? Usually if shellfish are overcooked, they get rubbery. And I am sure you didn't overcook anything, so maybe they were precooked and you didn't know it???

Gaak...you ROCK!!!

Kira


They were precooked, but I knew it. I may have overcooked them, but I think they were overcooked already, and freezing didn't help. I gradually brought them to a safe temperature (I didn't know how well or long, they'd been boiled, but I didn't want to risk parasitic infection), before tasting them for the first time.

From what I've read, like other tough proteins (even cuts of tough beef), you either have to cook them quickly and lightly or for a very long time at a simmer.

One recipe called for a 4 hour simmer. I was intending to go for "long haul" cooking, but the flavor was just so entirely bland that I didn't really see the point. If I cooked them until they were tender (or more acurately tender again), they weren't going to get any more flavor (at least unique flavor). They had so little taste that they while they might have tasted good if I had gotten them tender, all the flavor would come from the sauce (not much of an "adventure.")

Hey for $4, I got as much or more entertainment value out of the experience as I do the average movie, so it's all good.