It is when the first thunderstorms and drops of rain of the fifth lunar month come that the snails in the rice fields end their days of burrowing deep below the surface of the mud to avoid sunshine to appear all over the rice fields searching for the decaying sludge or microorganisms to eat. Snail season is coming. Chef Tran Thi Lan Anh (First Place Restaurant, Ho Chi Minh City), runner-up of the Golden Spoon Awards (the first season), was voted “the most skillful of the competition” by the board of judges. She elevated the simple and rustic snails to a top-rated appetizer with the sweetness of the snails, the crispiness of the prawn cracker flour combined with the typical aroma of ground culantro leaves. This is a strangely delicious dish with the balance of yin and yang food: the cold property (yang) of the snails and the warm one (yin) of culantro leaves. On rainy days, if you pick up a fried snail with a pair of chopsticks, dip into the culantro sauce, and put into your mouth, you can feel its scrumptious flavor touch in even the smallest cell of your esophagus, and you can enjoy the taste of the most authentic local food in the world.
CRISPY BREADED SNAILS WITH CULANTRO SAUCEPrint This
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE SNAILS
- 200g snail meat
- 100g featherback fish, meat scraped
- 100g pork paste
- 2 chicken eggs
- 50g cornstarch
- 200g prawn crackers
- 5g seasoning powder
- 5g sugar
- 5ml fish sauce
- 2g black pepper
- 5g minced ginger
- 5g culantro finely sliced
- 5g minced garlic
- 5g minced shallot
- 250ml cooking oil
- 10ml rice wine
- 100ml rice water
- INGREDIENTS FOR THE SAUCE
- 100g culantro
- 2 green cayenne peppers
- 20 green tiny chili peppers
- 50g roasted cashew nuts
- 30ml sweetened condensed milk
- 10ml lime extract
- (10ml fish sauce)
- (10ml olive oil)
- (5 garlic cloves)
- (2g salt)
- Accompanying romaine lettuce: 50g
Preparation: Crush prawn crackers into powder. Immerse Pila polita in rice water for 1-2 hours, then clean and boil to obtain the meat (get the head, leave out the bottom). Dry them with a clean towel and cut into small pieces. Add 5g of seasoning powdering and 5g of shallots to featherback fish and knead the combination.
Cooking Process: Mix the Pila polita and featherback fish with 5g of smashed ginger, 2g of pepper, 5g of smashed garlic, 5ml of fish sauce, 10ml of white wine, and 5g of sugar for 5 minutes. Then make them into round pieces, roll with corn powder, and place them in egg to create a sticky surface and roll with smashed prawn cracker.”
Culantro sauce: Place 100g cilantro, 2 green cayenne peppers, 20 green tiny chili peppers, 5 garlic cloves, 50g cashews, 10ml fish sauce, 30ml condensed milk, 10ml olive oil, 2g salt, and 10ml lime extract into the mixer to create an even combination.
Fry the snails: Heat the frying pan, then add 250ml cooking oil. When the oil is heated, put each snail ball into the pan and deep-fry them. It is barely cooked through when they turn golden brown and float onto the oil surface. Take them out and put them onto paper towels.
Sprinkle culantro sauce onto the serving platter, cut a snail into halves and garnish with small lettuce.
The sauce should have a slight greenness with a sour and bitter taste and be fragrant of culantro with a buttery undertone of roasted cashew nuts and olive oil.
The snails should be cooked through and have a slightly caramelized coating. Since the coating is made with the ground prawn crackers, the snails are crackly crisp for a longer time in comparison with the other breadcrumbs.
Garnish the dish with small lettuce or lettuce flower.
Choose snails with clean shells, thick and gill covers.
EFFECTS OF THIS DISH
This dish helps foster the strength of our bodies, tonify blood and bones, provide a lot of energy, minerals and vitamins, enhance energy and immune system, cure constipation, treat rheumatism, increase urine output, cure edema, gonorrhea, and fight aging. It is also good for those who have asthenic body syndrome, anemia (blood deficiency), excess Qi stagnation, osteoporosis, impaired eyesight, night blindness, decrease in memory power, loss of appetite, constipation, low urine output and edema.
TRAN THI LAN ANH First Place Convention Center (Ho Chi Minh City) Runner-up in the Golden Spoon Awards 2013