Snails

When eating at a restaurant with very extensive menu, sometimes the difficult part is to decide what to order. There are so many choices, and only a few you can pick especially when you’re going in a small group. Such was the case when we were at Quan An Ngon restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam. We ended up selecting several dishes, all were dishes that we don’t think we would get at other places in the next few days of our trip in Vietnam. One of the dishes was one that may be considered as a bit exotic to some people: snails.

Though snails may not be common food to eat where I live in the United States, and perhaps is known as gourmet food, in many parts of the world it is actually commonly eaten in poor communities since it’s easily harvested in the fields and it’s a very good source of protein. First time I had snails was at a French bistro in the United States, in the form of the gourmet dish (escargot cooked with garlic butter and herbs). At Quan An Ngon, we noticed the various ways snails (oc in Vietnamese) were prepared — grilled, broiled, steamed, in noodle soup, etc. — and it seems to be pretty popular there. Later I found out that it’s considered as one of the popular beer foods, appetizers that you would have while you’re having drinks with friends. The dish that we decided to get, steamed snails with lemongrass, seemed to a common preparation method as well.

Below is the photo of the dish that we ordered. It came in a claypot and accompanied by several bamboo skewers to use to get the meat out of the snail’s shell. The snail meat itself has unique texture — chewy, crunchy, a little rubbery — that might be a bit difficult for some folks to enjoy. But I thought it was quite a delicious dish, and the broth was refreshing.

Steamed snails with lemongrass