Melo melo is a very large sea snail, it can weigh until 2 kg. It lives littoral land shallow sublittoral zones. It usually dwells in muddy bottoms at a maximum depth of nearly 20 m. This kind of snail is collected for food in Vietnam, especially in Phan Thiet city (Binh Thuan province). According to local people, melo melo meat has 2 parts: the crunchy, translucent, pale flesh and the brown, greasy, buttery, tender guts. There are many methods of cooking this snail: grilling, boiling, stir-frying, steaming. Melo melo salad is a specialty food in Phan Thiet.
To make Melo melo salad, choose alive snails which have just been caught. Local people know how to recognize a good melo melo for the salad. The freshly-caught melo melo can create mucus and has sweet-tasty meat. The one which have been caught a few days ago is dry and has stinking meat. There are 2 ways to get the meat from the shell: boil the whole snail then get the meat or get the meat from the shell first, then boil the meat. Shred melo melo meat, mix it with sliced boiled pork belly, sliced papaya, onion strips (optional), Vietnamese mint, peanuts, deep-fried shallots, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice (or vinegar), salt, etc. The cook must follow a right ratio of spices to make the salad not too sour, not too salty, and not too sweet.
Sesame rice cracker (Bánh đa) or Shrimp cracker (Bánh phồng tôm), vegetables, herbs and sweet-sour fish sauce dip are served with Melo melo salad. To eat, use chopsticks to get some Melo melo salad, dip it in dipping fish sauce, put it on a piece of crispy Sesame rice cracker (or Shrimp cracker) and tuck in. All melt in your mouth and satisfy your taste.
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