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Mar 19, 2013 07:48 PM

Chinese asian whelk, sea snails, little clams, etc

Whenever I'm walking in Chinatown or a Chinese market, I see all the crazy seafood, and it's a shame I never make use of all that stuff. So, in the spirit of not doing that anymore, I ask you all how to prepare these molluscs.

Now, from what I understand, both kinds of large shell animals in my pics are actually whelks, not conchs, even though the one looks like a conch and is labeled as such. From what I understand for both these guys, when you boil them, THEN they can be pulled out of the shell. But on the other hand, I want to do as much of the cooking in flavorful sauce/butter as possible, so would it be possible to cook them for like 2 minutes, then pull them out of the shell, so you can cook them to finish later? Anyone try this?
Any way to pull them out raw without cooking?
Can I eat them whole, or are there guts I have to pull out?
What is the traditional chinese/asian preparations of these?
For these guys, you don't need to pound them like abalone, do you? Do you even need to pound those little asian abalones? I know you have to pound the California abalone that people harvest over there for fun., but is that the case for those fist sized asian abalones (not pictiured, but I've seen them in Asian markets)

How about those little clams? What's the traditional chinese cooking of that? Could I cook them in a cream sauce with white wine and shallots and stuff like European style?
Can I eat them whole? No weird guts to pull out?

How about the little sea snails? I've had some kind of sea snail at Jing Fong restaurant in NYC at dim sum hours, but it was annoying to pull each little bugger out, only reason I didn't eat more.
Again, traditional sauce/preparation? Any way to take them out raw?

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  1. The conch or snails need to be scalded in hot water to detach them from the shells before you can use the meat.

    You can use them in soups or stir-fry dishes. Small clams are generally stir-fried.

    1. I don't see any conch. Both are whelks. Conch are much larger. Whelks should be boiled for a few minutes in salted water. Drain and cool. Pull out of shell and trim off the interior part with the intestinal tract and the hard foot. Then you can use as you want. No need to pound. If you had conch, you need to cut a hole in the top between the 2nd and 3rd row of points on the shell and cut the muscle loose. Then cut the head off and skin it. The clam are cooked like any others and you can do them European style. Clam used in Italy are typically smaller than the US little necks/cherrystones anyways. The last picture looks like periwinkles. Boil them quickly in saltwater. I like them served in the shell with a bowl of melted herb garlic butter.

      1. A.A. Gill has some thoughts on snails. Warning. Likely to cause laughter.

        1. OK, any specifics on how to clean it? What does the intestinal tract look like?

          1 Reply
          1. re: peanuttree

            The intestinal tract is at the inner end part . Cut it off where the body gets thicker. The hard part that covers the shell should also be cut off. Then use the rest of the meat as desired.

          2. I've only bought whelks live so they definitely needed to go into a pot of boiling water for a few minutes to get them out of their shells and tenderize them. Not sure about the frozen variety. Once cooked you can stir fry them briefly with seasonings and vegetables, turn them into a salad or even as sashimi. I don't see why you couldn't also bake them like escargot.

            Short neck clams can be cooked like any other clams. I use them for rice and noodle dishes like paella, but it would also be very traditional to stir fry them with black bean sauce, chilies and herbs or what have you.

            The snails/periwinkles can be soaked in salted water to clean them, but so long as the source is reputable, I don't bother. Cooking requirements are minimal, 5-10 minutes stir frying or boiling. My mother would cook them in coconut cream with ginger and lemongrass; you could steam them in wine and herbs or stir fry with black beans to get something equally delicious.