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Snake?

A local Chinese restaurant is serving snake which I was told is a winter dish eaten for medicinal purposes.

I guess in the back of my mind I read something once about dried snake being used medicinally. I remember in Taiwan the street vendors will sell snake, but that seemed to be a more medicinal thing too.

Other than that my snake / meal knowledge was rattlesnake being eaten somewhere in the vicinity of Texas and the comment that it tastes like chicken.

So, who eats snake & why?

How is it prepared. Not really sure how that rattlesnake is prepared ... deep-fried like KFC?

Are there certain of types of snake to eat other than rattle?

What about big snakes? Seems you could get a nice roast-sized piece of meat out of a boa constrictor ... too tough & muscle-y?

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  1. Being from Texas, familiar with rattlesnake. It's almost always fried. There are at least 2 or 3 big rattlesnake roundups in the spring and the culmanate with a big rattlesnake fry. It's alright, nothing that I would go out of my way to get however.

    1. Serving rattlesnake is a gimmicky touristy thing in some Texas restaurants. Basically, it's a tough, bland meat that (if you dredge it in cornmeal and fry) is edible. I certainly wouldn't make an effort to find it. The whole "medicinal food" thing is an Asian concept that I think is totally bogus. This is the same mindset that claims tiger penis and shark fins are magical elixirs. I won't even get into pulsating monkey brains!

      1. There's a traditional soup in Okinawa made from irabu, a poisonous sea snake. I think it's considered "medicinal" (but a lot of their dishes are). I haven't tried it, and I doubt many young people eat it. In the large public market in Naha, a lot of vendors sell irabu coiled up, like in the picture below, or straight, where they look like walking sticks. I once saw a TV show there where they made a soup with the eggs.

        http://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/eng/ryu...

        http://www.wonder-okinawa.jp/026/e/re...

        1. The Vietnamese eat snake--as food, not as a medicinal. They also drink wine that has aged with a cobra in the bottle. In Cantho (on the Mekong delta), hides are also havested. The funny bit is that to keep fresh skins from bein damaged, the hides are blown up like balloons.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

            I guess snake drinks are not uncommon. Here's one for California rattle snake.
            http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink2640....

            Seriously though, this article from the Honolulu Star Buletin talks about small Vietnamese snakes that are grilled with lemon.
            http://starbulletin.com/2001/01/17/fe...

            It goes on to give a mail-order source (in Seattle) for cobra ($24.50 lb ... farmed in Maylasia) & rattle-snake ($39.95 free-range from Texas & Arizona).

            The owner of the business says
            "Cobra is described as similar to conch ... a lot like calamari. Rattlesnake is light and chewy" He says it does taste like chicken but has its own distinct flavor.

            There's a recipe in the article for fillet-o-snake. Snake seems to pair well with mushrooms & wine. Here's the website for those wanting snake or other exotic meats
            http://www.exoticmeats.com

            Excellent article that answers my Chinese snake question including the type of snake used. Also a tip that if you let the vendor keep the gall bladder, you can get a discount on the rest of the snake.
            http://www.flavorandfortune.com/dataa...

            Part of the reason for winter snake dishe in China is because the snakes are fattest because they are going into hibernation.

            Found this that said some but not all people eat snake in Africa. In the Congo boa meat is smoked and then simmered in pili pili sauce which is made of hot chile peppers, tomatoes, and onion.
            http://www.congocookbook.com/c0138.html

            In the good old USofA if you run into a deal on rattlesnake there is
            - Baked Western Diamondback Rattlesnake (in mushroom cream sauce
            )- Bar-B-Q'd Rattler (teriyaki sauce, ginger & sesame seeds)
            - Fried Rattlesnake with Ham Gravy (great for any white meat)
            - Rattlesnake Kabobs (using A-1 sauce)
            - Rattlesnake Lupinaci (mushrooms, syrah & oyster sauce)
            - Stuffed Diamondback (cornbread & Jack Daniels whiskey)
            http://www.backwoodsbound.com/zsnake....

            Tired of the same old crab cakes ... snake cakes
            http://www.recipesource.com/main-dish...

            Snake chili
            http://www.gamecalls.net/wildgamereci...

            Someone had a recipe for snake salad ... think chicken salad with mayo ... substitute snake.

            Seems in Guam it is can be made either cooked in coconut milk or marinated in sherry & Italian salad dressing then fried.
            http://www.fort.usgs.gov/resources/ed...
            http://www.fort.usgs.gov/resources/ed...

            Seems like the Blackfeet Indians made a sort of snake aspic with mint
            http://www.melborponsti.com/mel-first...

            Python Soup from New Guinea that starts with "First, catch your snake"
            http://www.anahitagallery.com/ahrecip...

            What is the world coming to when you can find snake recipes on the Wal-mart site ... you know they never tell you what that snake is made of ... just place snake in pan of water & freeze. Do they mean a REAL snake ... from where? The pet department? How do I pull out that tongue for display purposes ... tweezers?
            http://walmart.triaddigital.com/Recip...

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I rather enjoyed a stir-fried cobra dish in Cantho a few years ago, though the meat was very lean and not in itself flavorful. It was just another item on the menu though.

            2. Dominique's, one of Washington, DC's outstanding French restaurants in days gone by, used to serve rattlesnake as an appetizer. It was popular and very tasty as prepared by the accomplished kitchen.

              Snake was also available, but not easy to acquire, in Taipei's Snake Alley in the early 1990's, where it had once been widely sold. I arranged it for a group of US businessmen on a trade tour who insisted on trying it. There was some pressure from animal rights activists about this and other local customs so the snake vendor demanded no videos or photos. He killed a large live snake and drained the blood and bile for drinking. Some kind of macho/potency thing. The meat was sold for food in the stall which also sold turtle and other reptile meat.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MakingSense

                Snake Alley in Taiwain was still doing the snake thing in the late 90's when I was there ... same deal though ... no photos. Didn't try it.