Snails, yes, those slugs that live in your garden are edible.
And if you’ve never tried eating them, you’re probably grossed about the idea of putting them on your plates.
Contrary to some cultures that find it taboo, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asian, and African regions consider snails a delicacy.
The French have a sophisticated way of preparing them, and the dish is quite a hit.
What do snails taste like? We have answers for your curious mind, so scroll on.
What is Snail?
Snails are mollusks that live on land or water.
They are significant to the agricultural, culinary, and cosmetic industries.
The ones that are commonly used in the culinary world are:
- The European Garden snail.
- The African land snail.
- The Roman snail.
- The Turkish snail.
Edible snails are often called Escargot.
Historically, snail meat was considered ‘poverty food.
’ However, they are now a significant part of many cuisines, especially because of their health benefits.
Their meat is low in calories and fat and is a rich source of protein.
As such, heliciculture, or snail farming, is a common practice nowadays.
Culinary preparation of snails begins with cleaning the shells and starving them for about 10 days.
This cleans their digestive tract and makes them safe for consumption.
The snail’s slime is removed by rubbing them with salt.
And though a ‘cruel’ method, snails are always cooked live; dead ones are always discarded.
What Do Snails Taste Like?
Snails don’t have much flavor on their own; they have the taste of whatever ingredients they were cooked in.
Once cooked, they shrink in size, become gray, and don’t look too appetizing.
Many may assume their texture to be slimy and soft, but they are surprisingly meaty and tender, almost like chewing on mussels.
If they’re undercooked, snails will have a rubbery texture.
Because snail meat comprises muscle alone, there isn’t much natural flavor; they have a mild salty taste when eaten without much seasoning.
This is why they are mostly cooked in strong sauces.
Garlic and butter are the most used seasonings for snails as they significantly enhance the neutral taste of snails.
So if you eat out, you’ll find they have a strong buttery garlic flavor.
If the snails are not prepared well, some slime may be left on them, and the meat will taste bitter.
Proper preparation is always followed when cooking snails to prevent them from getting bitter.
Mussels and snails taste similar as they both assume the flavor of complementary ingredients used.
Both become rubbery when undercooked or overcooked.
The trick to getting the most satisfactory flavor out of snails or mussels is to find the optimum cooking conditions.
You might have to keep checking the meat by poking them with a fork now and then.
Some species of snails taste like chicken.
This is because snails shrink in size and become firm with cooking.
How to Cook and Serve Snails?
If you’re ready to try eating snails, you must be unsure of what way to cook them.
Well, we have a few of our favorites selected for you:
Stew: Snails are delicious when added to spicy stews.
They give more substance to the meal and give you a decent amount of protein.
But as always, ensure that they’re thoroughly cooked.
Stuffed snails: Snails often have a little extra space in their shells.
You can use this to stuff in some savory fillings.
A mixture of garlic, butter, shallots, and fresh herbs always impresses, and you must try it too.
This method of preparing snails is very common in French restaurants.
Snails in gravy: Cook your snails with simple seasonings like salt and pepper and add them to a gravy of onions, garlic, white wine, and fresh herbs.
You can consider using crushed nuts as a garnish for an exciting look.
Seafood pasta: If you like the taste of snails even further, sauté them with some rich seasonings and add them as garnishes for pasta.
You can try combining other seafood to expand the flavor profile.
When preparing meals with snails, do not eat them raw as they may contain parasites.
If infected, you may suffer the risk of lungworm disease; this rarely happens, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Regardless of how gross they can be, snails are delicious, and that’s what you need to rely on if you like experimenting with new food.
But the thing about snails is that they have no taste at all, so your seasonings and complementary ingredients will determine how they taste.
Snails can be quite unpalatable when eaten as is, so you can try adding them to savory dishes like soups.
They also make great garnishes for pasta and gravies.
So, try them all once you’ve gained the courage to eat the seemingly ‘gross’ snails.