Snails – also known as escargot in snobbish circles – have been human food for centuries. They may not be the food of choice for many, but this snail pasta recipe actually makes them taste really good. So, if you’re stuck with a bunch of snails, or want to add “eating snails” to your food bucket list, this snail pasta is a good recipe to try.
Apparently, our stone-age ancestors ate snails more than 30,000 years ago, if this BBC article is correct. That means snails have been a part of the human diet probably longer than a lot of foods we think of as ubiquitous. Another interesting point this article makes, which is at the centre of my food philosophy, is that humans are naturally experimental with food and adaptable. That means we’re naturally culinary adventurers. Trying new stuff is probably the most human thing you can possibly do. So, give snails a try; you never know, they might just become your new favourite food.
Although I think of myself as a generally adventurous eater, I had not tried cooking land snails until very recently. I had wanted to try them, but never found them sold anywhere I normally shop at. I’m not about to go foraging for them, though, since I live in a big city and there’s a large possibility the snails have ingested pesticides and other nasty things. However, while shopping recently at my local Asian supermarket T&T, I found frozen snail meat in the freezer section, and picked up a packet.
I then scoured the Internet in search of ways to cook these little guys and I discovered that “escargot” as the French call them are often cooked with a mixture of herbs and butter. They’re usually served in their shells with bread. However, since my snails were without shells, I decided to serve them on pasta; because everything tastes better with pasta, of course. Normally, escargot is cooked with parsley, butter, and garlic. I couldn’t find parsley at the supermarket, so I picked up some fresh coriander and dill. I also thought it would be nice to braise them in white wine for a while before adding them to the pasta sauce and I’m glad I did that.
I’ll say right now that although the sauce glorious, the snails on their own don’t really taste like much. They’re quite rubbery and chewy and don’t have much individual flavour; however, with the help of all the delicious herbs, butter, wine, lime juice and garlic, they became quite nice. I definitely recommend trying them at least once in a lifetime. And I absolutely recommend this herb pasta sauce for use in other pasta recipes; it would go beautifully with prawns, mussels, oysters and other seafood pasta. Maybe I’ll write a post about that sometime…when I get through all the crazy stuff I intend to try and cook.
- 400 grams of snail meat, without the shells
- Two cups chopped fresh coriander
- One and a half cup white wine (the cheapest you can find)
- Two cups chopped fresh dill
- Three tablespoons butter
- Two tablespoons white all purpose flour
- Six or seven chopped cloves of garlic (I like lots of garlic, you can use less if you want)
- Juice of one lime
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 200 grams of any pasta you like (if you want to keep to the theme, you can use any pasta that looks like shells)
- Wash the snails thoroughly in cold water. Drain.
- In a medium sized pot, add the snails, half of the coriander and dill, half of the wine, some salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then cover and allow to simmer on medium-low heat for one hour.
- Remove the snails from the herbs, discard the water used for boiling. In a saucepan, heat the butter, add the snails and chopped garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes, then add the flour. Continue to stir constantly for another 2-3 minutes.
- In the meantime, boil your pasta according to the package instructions in a lot of salted water.
- Add the wine and lime juice to the snails, continue stirring, if it gets too sticky, add some hot water or a ladle of the pasta water to the mix. Continue stirring for another 10 minutes.
- When the pasta is almost cooked, reserve the pasta water, then add the pasta to the snail mixture and stir it all together. If the mixture becomes too dry, add more pasta water one ladle at a time. Keep the mixture on medium heat until the pasta is cooked through.
- Add the remaining herbs 2 minutes before removing from heat. Serve on plates, ladle any extra sauce on top. Enjoy!
Have you ever eaten snails before? Did you cook them? How did you make them? Did you enjoy them? Let me know in the comments!
For another pasta recipe check out this Meat-free Eggplant Pasta recipe.
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