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Long Overdue Reports...a little appe-teaser on banh cuon and snails

Dear Hounds,

Well, it happened again--another CH session where I intended to post on one of two long overdue home cooking reports, and another session where it didn't happen. After all, I need to catch up on reading and adding random thoughts to other threads. It's much harder to actually write a post and gather together a series of photos (as I have for both).

So to keep myself honest and accountable, I thought I'd throw out an appe-teaser. That way you guys would expect my posts and hound me if I don't follow up. It's like having a thesis or project deadline...

The first thing that I really want to share w/ you all is my banh cuon making lesson w/ my mom when she recently came for a visit. I've eaten these tender, savory bundles growing up but had never really made them before. Don't worry...it's MUCH easier to make then it looks!

Here was the delicious and rewarding result:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

The second thing that I feel a little sheepish about posting is my husband's (and somewhat mine) project on harvesting and cooking garden snails (petit gris where we live). "thejulia" asked about this a few months back and we were intrigued so decided to try it. I wanted to let thejulia know how it went, and I figure that some others are interested even if you wouldn't do it.

It was an interesting little project, and I would have never been able to do it if husband didn't feed and care for (read: clean the poo) the snails for the duration of two weeks.

Below is a close up of them alive in their "pen." Nothing fancy--a big rectangular plastic Earthbound Farms container w/ holes pierced for air. They are pretty and elegant creatures, if not a bit moist and slimy while moping about. And it's really true that these tiny things like to mate alot!

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

So this is all I can muster for today. I'll post on the banh cuon tomorrow, I promise!!

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  1. They're so cute! In their own slimy way, of course.

    Now I'm salivating, waiting for the banh cuon recipe.

    1. Wow-can't wait for both reports. The banh cuon looks incredible and I'm so hungry right now that I'm a little upset with you for posting such a photo. ;-)

      1. wow... gotta say, I'm pretty adventurous, have no problems seeing the cow/pig before or while they are slaughtered, but, for some reason, raising my own snails would be beyond my threshold.

        So... I'm conflicted about your post. My appetite was seriously piqued when I saw the banh cuon photo... then I saw the snail photo and it dropped right back down. :)

        Seriously, though, kudos on the experiments and sorry I can't indulge in the latter half of them...

        5 Replies
        1. re: adamclyde

          Thanks for everyone's responses thus far. I'll post on the banh cuon tonight and the snails hopefully tomorrow (if not, then right after the holiday weekend).

          Adamclyde, I understand your conflict. Much of my family was horrified about our snail "farm" and consumption. My mother who has eaten snails in Vietnam couldn't even look at my photos. Like I said, it never would have happened w/o my husband. He did most everything--from collecting, feeding, caring, to even cooking (I was half-hiding upstairs). It was a one time deal, as we're not interested in doing this long-term.

          I hope that hounds don't think that we're too evil or barbaric, but it's true that you develop a much greater appreciation for what it means to eat other living creatures when you're faced w/ immersing yourself in the entire process. For those who think this might be "wrong" or gruesome, then no need to follow that thread.

          For those who enjoy escargot (does it sound better when it's not called snails?), this photo may be more appetizing:
          http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

          1. re: Carb Lover

            Did you buy the escargot plate just for your experiment? That's too adorable for words.

            I don't think it's barbaric at all. If anything, it's more civilized and responsible than going to a restaurant and washing your hands of the whole matter. It should be considered "traditional," not cruel or barbaric.

            Also, is this true? http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/escargot...

            It claims that raw snails are fat free. How is that possible? Maybe they're just low fat enough to be rounded down to 0.

            1. re: Pei

              Well, I've actually had the escargot crocks for about 7 years. That year for Y's birthday, I bought him a bunch of things along a French theme. This included two snail crocks and a huge can (I'm talking something like 64 oz) of snails from Cost Plus. Needless to say, we had snails coming out of our ears for a couple of weeks. We still joke about our last, painful endurance of snail pasta. They're really best appreciated in small doses, as you might guess.

              And, yes, I could see how they're fat free. Other mollusks are pretty low fat, no? Bear in mind that one has to compensate for that by loading on a healthy dose of butter...

              Dressed snails prior to broiling:
              http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y45/...

              Ok, enough, I better get working on the banh cuon post!!

            2. re: Carb Lover

              In the 70's I was a waitress (in high school) and I'd call an "order of slugs" into the kitchen.

              Even in high school I was a "Chowhound". One night I asked the chef for a few "slugs" to take home and try. Having sat looking at them for a few minutes, I mustered up the courage to give them a try. Their texture reminded me of liver. I haven't tasted them since.

              1. re: Carb Lover

                oh heavens no, I don't think you are evil or barbaric. I even like escargot... just for some reason I can't stomach raising them myself. Probably because my childhood included many "experiments" with my friends on how to torture snails. I know... terrible... I've since repented. Promise. Regardless, that's my memory when I see snails not covered in butter and other such accoutrements.

            3. Carb Lover, thanks so much for posting on your experience! I never did do my own harvesting because by the time I got around to it, the population seem to have dwindled. Instead of seeing dozens of snails lolling about, their were only two or three petits grises in the garden each morning and I didn't have the heart.

              But, this is fascinating and the final dish looks incredible. I'm really going to have to do this myself soon.

              1. Tran, thanks for another fascinating post! I didn't know about your snail project... I remember reading years ago how to harvest and purge garden snails at home and always wanted to try it but MTH (my then husband :/) convinced me that it was too crazy so I never tried it. How lucky you are to have a DH like Y who appreciates and participates in your projects!

                Can't wait to read more about your banh cuon making - photo looks, as usual, good enough to eat (and I'm still full from lunch!)

                1. Woman! You made banh cuon!!?! And you say it was easy?!! No, it is instead a testament to YOUR skill as a talented chef. I have heard way too many people tell me the skill it takes to make good banh cuon. You, my dear, are being modest! My mother is an amazing cook, she can replicate anything-from German to Arabic-by taste and even she won't make it. When I asked why, she said, "It's too hard! They are either great and delicate or they are bad. No, no! Too hard!" (Sorry, if I could type the accent, that would have been kind of funny. You'll have to imagine the eyeroll, big sigh, and over-dramatics.)

                  1. you know there must be something about some husbands and raising snails. . . we had a snail farm on our balcony at one point--left overs from a snail harvest at a secret location. But he wouldn't let me cook them because they were a farm :(

                    Alas, our balcony did not seem to be the right micro climate for snail farming, they began dying off so we liberated them [into our community garden plot] which wasn't the right micro climate either and they eventually perished.

                    I fully agree that one gains appreciation by seeing the creature pre-package. Both our pups have watched chickens being killed in China and fish being, as my son phrases it, bonked at the 99 ranch. They "get" meat better than their friends who think chickens really have nuggets.

                    I congratulate you on your stellar accomplishments. Perhaps your husband would be willing to share his tips on snail farming. We're in a different place now and I'd be willing to try it again!