Snail Dishes – Amazing Saigon Foods
If someone ask me that which the most favorite street food in Saigon is, my answer is snail. Nowhere in the world, people love snail dishes as much as in Saigon. Most of snail restaurants and stalls open in the evening because it’s cool enough for locals to gather, eat snails and drink some beer after working. It’s a familiar scene of that people sit on small chairs around plastic tables with lots of snail dishes and bottles of beer. You can hear they cheer up, chatting and laughing all around. If you visit Saigon, do not miss a big chance to immerse yourself into local life and learn more about unique culture – eating snail culture in Saigon.
At at snail restaurants, they not only serve snail dishes but also ocean crabs, scallops and fertilized duck egg. These foods attract Vietnamese people because meat of snails, scallops is flavorful, crunchy and rich of protein and iron. In addition, we have found many ways to cook snail and scallops and make them become addicting dishes. Most of them is served hot with Vietnamese mint and special sauces. Followings are some delicious snail and shell dishes you should try at snail restaurants in Saigon:
1. Stir Fried Mud Creeper With Coconut Cream (Oc Len Xao Dua)
South Vietnam is full of coconut trees, local people use coconut cream to cook a lot of delicious cakes, desserts and savory dishes. Stir Fried Mud Creeper With Coconut Cream is one of the most favorite snail dishes in Saigon for perfect blends of greasy coconut cream, chewy snail meat, smelling lemon grass, hot chili and Vietnamese mint. Dinners can feel that flavorful coconut sauce play off mud creeper when eating. An interesting thing is that a hole is made at the apex of the snail’s shell so that dinners can suck the snail meat at snail lip.
2. Roasted Sweet Snail With Salt And Chili (Oc Huong Rang Muoi Ot)
Sweet snail is a favorite snail in Vietnam for its great taste and good smell. After being cooked, sweet snail is very smelling so that in Vietnamese we call it “Oc huong” which means smelling snail. Sweet snail contains a host of nutritents, especially vitamin B. Price of this snail is higher than other snails because it’s tastier and healthier. There are many ways to cook this kind of snail, but it has been said that roasting it with salt and chili is the best. After being roasted, the dry mix of salt and chili covers snail’s shell, snail’s meat turn dry and smelling, tastes salty and hot. Dinners use toothpick to get sweet snail’s meat out of its shell. Then dip the meat into special sauce made from kumquat juice, fish sauce, sugar and tuck in. It’s better to be eaten with Vietnamese mint.
3. Grilled Garlic Snail With Green Onion and Oil (Oc Toi Nuong Mo Hanh)
Garlic snail is as big as human hand and looks like garlic. It has a special smell which is similar to smell of garlic after being cooked. Its meat is crunchy, flavorful and rich of protein and iron. Its meat is removed from the shell to wash and cut into pieces, marinated before being put back to the shell which will be grilled on charcoal with green onion and oil. Grilled Garlic Snail With Green Onion and Oil is usually topped with crushed peanuts and served with sweet and sour fish sauce dip and Vietnamese mint. Sweet and sour fish sauce dip is made by cooking mix of fish sauce, water, ground ginger, vinegar and sugar until the mix turns gelatinous. Some prefer dipping this food in mix of salt, black pepper and lemon juice.
4. Grilled Medium Sized Edible Snail With Green Pepper (Oc Buou Nuong Tieu Xanh)
Medium Sized Edible Snail is one of the most popular and delicious snails in Vietnam. It needs many steps to cook Grilled Medium Sized Edible Snail With Green Pepper. At first, snails should be boiled with lemongrass and lemon leaves. Then marinate boiled snails with garlic, sugar, vinegar, chili, black pepper and green pepper for about 20 minutes. Then grill them on charcoal until they become pleasant and smelling. This dish is served hot with herbs and sauces.
5. Stir-fried Bong Snail With Saute (Oc Bong Xao Sa Te)
“Bong” means flower in Vietnamese, we call this kind of snail “Bong snail” because there are many spots on its shell and it looks like small beautiful flower. This kind of snail is better stir-fried with deep-fried pork fat lard and saute made from oil, lemon grass and chili. This dishes is very greasy and hot. Be careful of it! It’s served with Vietnamese mint, mix of salt, pepper and lemon juice or sweet and sour fish sauce dip.
6. Stir-fried Finger Snail With Saute (Oc Mong Tay Xao Sa Te)
We call this snail “finger snail” because its shell looks like nail. Containing high level of calcium and iron, nail snail’s meat is very healthy. It’s said that stir-frying with saute is the best way to cook nail snail. Nail snail meat can be cooked with or without its shell.
7. Stir Fried Ca Na Snail With Garlic And Chili (Oc Ca Na Xao Toi)
Ca na snail is smaller than other kinds of snails, it could take more time to eat this food. However it’s worth your time eating this food because it’s very delicious.
8. Boiled/Grilled Blood Cockle or So Huyet Nuong/Luoc
Blood cockle is one of the most expensive, delicious and healthier in Vietnam. It contains high level of protein and can treats stomach ache. Its meat has red color so that it’s called blood cockle. Blood cockle is usually boiled with lemongrass or grilled with green onion and oil.
9. Grilled scallop with green onion and oil
The cook should remove one side of scallop’s shell and top the meat with oil and chopped green onion. Then grill the other side with its meat on charcoal until the meat is well-done and smelling. To serve, it’s topped with crushed peanuts. Sweet and sour fish sauce dip is a must.
10. Fertilized Duck Egg or Hot Vit Lon
Although Fertilized Duck Egg is considered as a food fear factor in Western countries and others in the world, this is one of the most favorite night street food in Vietnam. In Vietnamese opinion, this food is very healthy, especially for pregnant women and thin kids. Fertilized Duck Egg contains many vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorite… It’s easy to find this kind of food at snail restaurants. You can order a boiled one to eat with mix of salt, pepper and lemon juice. Or you can try stir-fried one with tamarind sauce.
Snail Dishes are amazing Saigon foods that any foodie should not miss. They are unique and special foods which are cooked from less-used ingredients in the world in very creative ways. Snail dishes are good for health because snails contain high level of iron, calcium, protein and vitamins. Shells in Vietnam are cooked in our own way so that you couldn’t find them out of our country, especially Saigon – a city famous for foodies and street foods.