Saturday, July 27, 2013

Escargot in Lemongrass and Garlic Sauce (appetizers for 2 people)


When it comes to food do you prefer to eat escargot or snails?   I know some of my friends are scared of just looking at or touching a snail, let alone put one in their mouth!   I am sure some people in the past were fearful of lobsters in similar ways.  They were once eaten only by the poorest people (in the Northeast of United States).  Please do not let the words or the idea of trying new food scare you because you will be missing out on a lot of great tasting treats!

These snails came from my mother.  She got them from her fisherman friend in Maine.  She cooked them, removed the actual snails and kept them frozen in a bag for me.  Of course they are much better fresh if you can get a hold of them.  If you are interested in trying them out please check with your local fishermen for ocean snails. 

Ingredients:

18 cooked snails (about 2 C of snail meat), washed well and drained
2 Tbsp fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp of chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish, optional)
1/2 tsp fish sauce
A large pinch of sugar

Method:

1) Finely chop or use a coffee grinder to mince the lemongrass and garlic.
2) Heat oil and butter in a small pan over medium high heat.
3) Once the pan is hot add the minced lemongrass and garlic.  Saute for about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
4) Add the snails, saute for about 5-7 minutes.
5) Add fish sauce, sugar and cilantro, saute for another minute and remove.  May serve with crusty bread or toasted baguette. 

*The fresh snails can be gently boiled for about 25-30 minutes.  Once cooked they are easily removed from their shells by a toothpick.  If they do not come out then your snails are not done.  Growing up in Vietnam I remember that some people put guava leaves in the pot for a nice fragrance.  I don't have guava leaves available but I do have lemongrass leaves or tough stalks and that can be used instead.
*I have a small coffee grinder that I use mainly for grinding up herbs and spices.
*My husband likes to soak up the tasty sauce with toasted bread or baguette--so the delicious sauce is never wasted!

view of Little White Head, Monhegan Island, Maine
view of Burnt Head, Monhegan Island
view from White Head, Monhegan Island
(thank you Paul for this photo!!)
*Maine is not only known for the famous and delicious lobsters.   But it is also a "vacationland" with many activities for nature lovers.  If you enjoy the outdoors then this state is for you and it deserves a visit.  I lived in Maine for 16 years and to this day every time I visit I always see something new or interesting.  Most tourists travel to Maine in the summer and fall.  However, the long winter can be cold but there are many activities such as ice fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, winter hiking, snowshoeing, winter camping to name a few.  Recently my husband and I were in Maine for a few days and we visited several quaint coastal towns and islands.  One of the islands we visited was Monhegan Island.  It was and still is an artist colony especially in the summer.  Artists continue to come here for inspiration and to paint the beautiful and breath taking landscapes and seascapes.  There are also many hiking trails for novice to expert hikers.  Once you have been to Monhegan you will understand why artists such as Robert Henri, George Bellows, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, and Doris Rice chose this place to paint.

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