Live snails are traditionally used in this Vietnamese recipe, but Corinne Trang finds that canned snails work very well. The snails are chopped and mixed with pork, chile, ginger and other flavorings, then stuffed into snail shells and steamed. A lemongrass handle makes removing the filling easy.
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2 fresh lemongrass stalks
1/2 pound ground pork
One 7-ounce can large Burgundy snails—drained, rinsed and minced (see Note)
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 Thai chiles, halved and seeded, 1 minced and 1 julienned
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
24 snail shells
Lettuce or cabbage leaves, for steaming
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 scallion, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup soy sauce, preferably Chinese thin
How to Make It
Trim the root ends of the lemongrass and remove a total of 8 long outer leaves from the stalks. Tear the leaves into three 3-inch-long strands. Trim off and discard all but the bottom 3 inches of the stalks and finely chop 1 of the tender bulbs. Thinly slice the remaining bulb on the diagonal. In a mini processor, puree the chopped lemongrass to a fine paste.
In a bowl, combine the ground pork with the snails, ginger, minced chile, sesame oil, salt, pepper and lemongrass paste.
Gently bend a lemongrass strand in half and stick it inside a snail shell, bent side in, and with the 2 ends protruding. Stuff the shell with 2 teaspoons of the pork-and-snail filling, working it between the lemongrass ends. Wipe the rim of the shell. Repeat with the remaining lemongrass strands, shells and filling.
Line a steamer rack with lettuce leaves and set the stuffed shells on top. Steam the snails until hot to the touch and cooked through, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the sliced lemongrass, julienned chile and scallion and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour the soy sauce into a heatproof serving bowl. Stir in the scallion-and-chile oil and serve with the snails.
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