Grape snails (Helix pomatia) are the most widespread type of terrestrial gastropods in Ukraine. Even 20 years ago, the inhabitants of our country, looking at the slow creatures crawling in the garden, could not even imagine that they could be eaten.
However, the expansion of the culinary horizons, the popularization of national dishes from around the world and travel introduce us to new products. Among them were snails, of which the most famous delicacy, escargot, is prepared in France.
Of course, not only Helix pomatia is used in cooking. Garden molluscs (large Helix aspersa Maxima and small Helix aspersa Muller) and mountain molluscs (Helix lucorum) are also eaten.
But, in view of the availability of grape snails, we will talk about them in this article.
How and where to collect shellfish?
Finding the main ingredient for gourmet dishes in Ukraine is not a problem. Snails are found:
Gastropods are harvested from May to September-October (depending on the weather). For the winter, snails hibernate.
It is better to go for a catch at dawn: after a cool night, animals crawl out to prominent places, and as the sun rises, they hide in the shade. A rainy day is the perfect time to collect.
Most importantly, remember! You can collect shellfish for food only in ecologically clean places. If there are manufacturing plants, major highways, sewage treatment plants nearby, do not risk it, buy snails at the nearest farm.
So, your catch is collected, it’s time to start an important stage of preparation — internal and external cleaning.
Rinse the clams under water and place in a container (container, box, saucepan). Cover the top with a lid so that enough air gets inside, but the snails do not escape.
Do not feed animals for three days. During this time, they will completely get rid of excrement. Spray or rinse the snails every day.
Before the next step, check if all individuals are alive (the dead must be thrown away).
The snail fillet is the leg with which it crawls. In order to obtain meat, mollusks are subjected to primary heat treatment, otherwise it will be difficult to remove the body from the shell.
Dip the snails in boiling water and cook for 15 minutes, periodically skimming off the foam with a slotted spoon. Remove and let cool slightly.
Now, using a thin fork or tweezers, gently pull the body out of the shell. Place the clams on a cutting board and cut the fillets with a sharp knife. The rest is not needed (except for shells if you plan to cook escargot).
Let’s start cooking. Put fresh water on fire, put onion, carrot, bay leaf and 5-6 black peppercorns there (add other herbs, herbs, parsley root if desired).
After boiling, dip the snail meat in a saucepan, reduce heat and cook for about 50 minutes.
Where to use ready-made snails?
Prepared fillets can be added to various dishes:
The snails are pickled, stewed in sauces (tomato, Bechamel), fried, baked.
Shellfish meat is very tender, dietary and healthy. This protein product is easy to digest and contains many vitamins and minerals.
It is not for nothing that snail dishes have become a real cult of exquisite French cuisine. Chilled white dry wine is served with gastropod appetizers in European countries.
Feel yourself mentally on the French Riviera by preparing and tasting a snail dish.