27 January 2007

A recipe for snail eaters

Kapadokya Lezzeti (Cappadocia Flavor), a book by Sula Bozis, originally published in Greek and recently in Turkish, brings back the gastronomical culture and the recipes of the Turkish-speaking native Greeks of Anatolia, especially of the Cappadocia and Karaman regions. The majority of the Anatolian Greeks were forced to migrate to Greece during the 1924 population exchange between Turkey and Greece that followed the Turkish-Greek War of 1919-1922. They took with them, to eventual oblivion, their centuries old culture and traditions and the unique script, Karamanlica, that they used to write Turkish.

What was lost then, now lives in books, photographs and recipes. So here is how the Anatolian Greeks cooked their snails, in translation from Kapadokya Lezzeti. Sula Bozis traces the recipe to Uluağaç, a village of Niğde in central Turkey.

Snail yahni1

1.5 kg large snails
3 chopped onions
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
2-3 bay leaves
1 tea glass2 oil
vinegar, salt, pepper

Place the snails in a large shallow pot filled with water and vinegar, close the lid and secure it with a rock on it so the snails won't escape. Replace the water once every 2 hours3. Transfer the snails to another large pot with boiling salted water; boil for 15 min. Drain the snails, let them cool and then remove them from their shells using a sewing pin.

Sauté the onions lightly in oil. Then add the tomato sauce, water, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, add the snails, simmer until most of the water evaporates. Serve hot.

Afiyet olsun!

1Yahni, originally from Persian, in the Anatolian lexicon means a dish made with sautéed onions, tomate sauce and meat.
2A traditional Turkish tea glass with a narrow waist. There are a couple of them in the photo of Peter Throckmorton in this post.
3The recipe doesn't specify how long the snails are kept in vinegar-water.


Oran_Taran said...

Aww, poor snails. That must be a slow and painful death. Do you think snails suffer? I know some people debate whether lobsters suffer when they're boiled alive (or sliced in half or any of the other methods they use when cooking them), but what do you think about snails?

brockvond said...

After a friend told me how his cousin had made a meal of the large West Coast slugs, Ariolimax ("banana slugs"), during hard times, I contrived the following recipe. I haven't actually tried it with slugs, but a very similar version with clams is excellent!

Pasta with Banana Slugs

1-2 dozen banana slugs (enough for 10 oz meat when cleaned)
white vinegar
3 tbp unsalted butter
1 8-oz bottle clam juice
1½ tbp whole fennel seed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1½ tbp lemon juice
1½ oz Pernod
½ lb capellini or fine spaghetti

Blanch banana slugs in boiling water. Rinse in white vinegar to remove slime and blot dry with paper towels. Clean, removing viscera and head, and dice foot and dorsum into ¼-inch pieces.

Boil water for pasta. In sauté pan melt butter, not allowing it to brown. Crush fennel seed and red pepper flakes in a mortar and add to melted butter. Stir and sauté for two minutes. Add slugs and sauté for two minutes or just until cooked. Add clam juice and lemon juice and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Begin cooking pasta according to package directions. When cooked just shy of al dente, remove from heat and drain. Stir pasta into sauce. When almost heated to serving temperature, add Pernod and mix thoroughly.

Serve with topping of Parmesan cheese.

Serves 3 (or 2, if one person declines to try it)

Variation: for banana slugs, substitute one 10-oz can baby clams.


brockvond: Thanks for the recipe, but I won't be trying it. I think I'd rather eat grasshoppers than slugs.