There are many unique inclusions with meals in the world, some of which may be called as exotic and some are simply overlooked. Snails are an inclusion with many meals, particularly in Asian, African and French cuisine.
But if you’ve not been a part of this meal type before, you’re probably wondering to yourself if a snail actually tastes good or not. Could you eat snails that you find in the garden?
The answer is yes you can, and snails have a relatively neutral taste – it’s the way in which you prepare and cook them that makes their inclusion in your meal so unique.
Of course, you’ve probably got lots more questions, so our guide below looks to answer all of your most burning queries. Ready to find out more about them? Read on and discover the answers!
What Exactly Is A Snail?
Before we go any further, it’s probably best that we clarify what a snail is exactly. Snails are mollusks that can live in water or on land and are often found in domestic settings like gardens, and even in your home if they’re given the chance!
Despite their appearance, they are very important to the culinary arts and indeed in the cosmetic industry and within agriculture.
Of course though, this guide will be focused on their use in cooking, so let’s take a look at the most common used snails in the culinary world:
- The African land snail
- The Turkish snail
- The European garden snail
- The Roman snail
Years ago and likely due to their abundance, snails were known as the food of the poor, or “poverty food” for short. However, as we have adapted as a society, particularly in Western culture, snails have become a much more highly valued staple in cuisine.
As a result, many restaurants will serve “escargot”, which is the generalized term for edible snails. Aside from being an excellent resource for quality dishes, snails are actually very nutritious too.
They are a fantastic source of protein and they’re very low in fat and calories. As a result, snails are an effective inclusion in meals for people who are looking to lose weight or gain lean muscle.
Due to their popularity in the modern era, snail farming (also known as heliculture) has become commonplace and there are plenty of restaurants around the country, and the wider world that will use snails in their cuisine.
How Are Snails Prepared For Cooking?
The culinary preparation of snails is relatively simple, but if you’ve never done it before, you will find it takes several tries to really hone in on the perfect way to do it.
Chefs will begin by cleaning the snail’s shell and then starving them for about ten days. This is important because it forces the snail to clean out their digestive tract and increase the safety for human consumption.
A snail’s well known slime is then removed by using salt and rubbing them down using a brush or paper towel.
It’s important to note at this point that snails must be cooked alive. Dead snails will always be discarded.
Despite how some people may feel about this practice, it is a vital part of the process because deceased snails can carry harmful bacteria which is difficult to destroy.
How Do Snails Taste?
As we mentioned earlier, snails do not necessarily have their own taste. If anything, they’re tasteless, so it’s a very neutral meat to use in food.
However, this means that the ingredients and the way in which you cook your meal will be significant for identifying the taste.
After a snail has been cooked, it shrinks and turns into a very off-putting gray color, which is more of a reason why the recipe is so critical – remember, our eyes play a huge role in the success of a meal.
Generally speaking, the texture of a snail is meaty and similar to eating mussels. However, if you have not cooked the snail thoroughly, the texture is very rubbery and slimy.
What Should You Cook With Snails?
As snails have little to no taste alone, you’re going to need to prepare a meal with plenty of seasoning and sauce.
You will likely discover that many restaurants serve snails with a garlic butter sauce, which as you can imagine, provides a very powerful garlicky taste and aroma.
Here are just a few potential dishes you could make using snails – just remember that correct preparation and thoroughly cooking the snails will be paramount to their success:
Stew is a very basic, simple and effective dish that you can incorporate snails into. When everything is just right, snails are absolutely delicious in a stew.
On top of this, the added ingredients such as the vegetables, will increase the nutritional benefits of the meal. Once again, it makes it ideal for those on a strict diet or looking to lose weight.
Snail (Seafood) Pasta
This dish is a variation on the highly popular shrimp pasta. Essentially, you will need to saute the snails with incredibly rich and flavorful seasoning, and include them as the meaty staple of the dish.
The best pasta dishes to make using snails in this way are either a bolognese or a carbonara. However, arguably you are better off with a tomato-based pasta dish, as the meaty texture of snails highlights the flavor better than it can with a creamy carbonara.
Using snails in a curry can be highly effective. As curries have a variety of different spices and herbs, the texture of snails can boost the finished product multiple times over.
You will prepare your favorite curry dish from scratch, but it’s better to choose a balti or biryani dish, as the spices are much less powerful than that of a madras or vindaloo for example.
Ensure you thoroughly cook your snails separately and only mix them within the finished curry after it has been cooked – do not cook them together. This avoids overcooking the snails, which can shrink them too much and lose their texture.
While snails do not really have their own taste, you can make them delicious by including them into brilliantly prepared and cooked dishes.
All you need to remember is not to eat snails raw, prepare them correctly and practice including snails into your dishes as often as you can for extra practice!
What Does A Snail Taste Of? A Guide To Snail FoodsCourse: Taste Like
- Chefs will begin by cleaning the snail’s shell and then starving them for about ten days. This is important because it forces the snail to clean out their digestive tract and increase the safety for human consumption.
- A snail’s well known slime is then removed by using salt and rubbing them down using a brush or paper towel.
- It’s important to note at this point that snails must be cooked alive. Dead snails will always be discarded.
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