Yanghsuo River Snails

Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth: Season One: Yangshuo Cooking School

Serves4 as a first course
  • Active time:35 min
  • Start to finish:1 hr
December 2009
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For braising snails

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb fresh river snails (periwinkles) in their shells, rinsed well
  • 1 cup pork spareribs (2 small), hacked into 1-inch pieces with a cleaver
  • a 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 2 whole star anise
  • a 1 1/2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 5 small (1 to 2-inch) dried chiles or tsp hot red pepper flakes

For stir fry

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 oz pickled bamboo shoots, rinsed and cut into long thin strips (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 small (2-inch) pickled red chiles, cut into smaller pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Braise snails

  • Stir water and salt in a wok (it should taste like the sea), then add snails, pork, ginger, star anise, cinnamon, and pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Boil snails over medium heat 20 minutes.
  • Transfer snails to a bowl with a slotted spoon, discarding pork and large spices, then discard braising liquid and wipe wok dry. Using a pin or a toothpick, remove the protective flat disk of shell from the opening of each snail and discard.

Stir fry snails

  • Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok over high heat until almost smoking, then quickly add bamboo shoots, pickled chile, and garlic and stir-fry about 30 seconds. Add snails and stir-fry 30 seconds more. Add water, mint, oyster sauce and soy sauce and stir-fry 30 seconds more. Transfer to a bowl and serve.
Cooks' Note: Fresh snails, pickled bamboo shoots and whole pickled red chiles are available at most Chinese markets.
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