So, I know that those of you who get me in day to day conversation knew that I was off around to see Matt Pocock tonight to .. well .. eat snails.
Matt is a fairly prolific veg gardner these days, and snails somewhat blight the landscape of a thriving vegetable patch.
We may have been slightly inebriated but at some point we agreed to cook and eat some of the pests that infest the veggies. And well, snails.. they are rather.. pesty.
Matt gathered up the snails and had been feeding them on pak choi for a while. Snails need.. purging before eating, so they had a couple of days off the pak choi they had been fattened on, and just left with some water for company.
Deciding that they were ready today, we rinsed them under cold running water – boiled up a pot of water on the hob and threw them in – giving them 4 minutes or so on a rolling boil. I think if we were to do this again we’d pay more attention to this stage – the amount of green foam generated at this point is amazing, and they will turn your boiling water an amazing vegetable green.
After this we dunked them in salted water for 20 minutes, then de-shelled them. We gave them an extended vinegar/water/salt bath with a bit of a buffing to remove some of the last remaining slime. I suspect if we do the boiling properly next time (scraping off the scum and replenishing the water until they ‘boil clean’) this might be superfluous.
After that they were pretty much ready to go – we fried them in butter and herbs and garlic, put together a simple stir fry – tossed the snails back in and, well, ate them.
Things we learned:
1) Snails are much bigger than you think when you get them out of the shell. 12 snails per person is a good amount. That shell – that curvature – it’s not air – there’s snail in there, and its curly!
2) They don’t have a strong flavour of their own, cooking them in strong flavours seems to be the way forward
3) They’re not tough, rubbery or slimey when you eat them.
4) There’s no need to feed them on flour to purge them
5) There’s no need to butcher them once they’re de-shelled – we didn’t encounter any inedible parts – and well, we ate them *all*
6) We will eat them again! They’re pretty versatile and we have plenty of ideas!
Free food is good food :D
And practically everyone we mentioned this to pulled face of disgust. Apart from the vegetarians you’re just culinary cowards. If you’re prepared to eat a rare steak, or mussels, cockles whatever.. why not just nom on those shelled friends in your back garden?