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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.http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/fea...

        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.

            1. 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...

              It's far easier to kiss the bugger out.....cover the pneumostome, or air hole, release and kiss. I'd really tell you to suck them out, but that would not seem very classy.

              1. i think you have to be careful not to overcook these things. i know octopus gets pretty rubbery if not cooked right.

                i was visiting someone and her dad had come back from an unsuccessful surf fishing trip. so he boiled up his sand crab bait (more like a snail than crab) and used a bent nail to pull out the meat.

                i was walking dog along rocky shore and he would go after silver dollar sized crabs hiding under rocks. sounded awful as he crunched them down.

                1. OK, so at the Hmart in Fort Lee I bought some of this certain kind of little whelk (that wasn't in the Hmart at Little Ferry) and tried eating them.
                  A few of them were still moving, so they were definitely fresh

                  I tried pulling one out raw by stabbing a hole in it and then scraping inside like I seen in internet videos, but I couldn't do that right.
                  Obviously, I washed them then put them in a bucket and filled the water with a few changes of water and brushed them to remove mucous and sand, before I set to cooking them.
                  I clarified/cooked some ginger and scallion (mostly the green part) in a good amount of oil, and then added a soy sauce/sugar/water mix and then boiled the little buggers in all that.

                  I then ate the little suckers, by pulling them out with these crab forks I had bought at the Hmart - you dig in and pull and spin the shell to get the guy out. You have to cut off the operculum (the hard shell-hole cover), and you eat the muscular "foot", none of the stuff below that. Having watched internet videos, and doing it myself directly, it was easy to see what is good to remove, the siphon and the organs (heart and something else I think) inside. However, doing this was tedious for each little guy having little meat, and I wasn't brave enough to try just eating the foot whole with the siphon and organs.
                  You would usually get one or two grains of sand in each guy, but it wasn't bad.
                  The midsection, where the gut is, you don't eat at all, but you can eat the spiral "tail", which is actually the gonad organs. They had that strong, livery shellfish-organ flavor, like eating lobster tamale. Though I think the ones with red on the gonads didn't taste quite so good, and I think those are the males.

                  All, in all, it was fun trying something new, and fun doing the tactile task of pulling the little guys out of their pretty shells then eating them, but tedious cutting them up to get only the best part. I kept the shells for serving purposes, I figure if I want to serve them, just use those as decoration, and just use a hammer to open the raw guys and cut them up raw for cooking.

                  Still haven't tried the big guys at the Hmart in little ferry, pictured in the OP.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: peanuttree

                    Oh, and I forgot to say, that I think maybe one of the advantages of these types of shellfish in general - whelks, "conch", cockles, etc. is that I think they have less of that fishy flavor than clams or mussels.

                    Oh and, I intend to try abalone eventually, too.

                  2. Your first picture of the whelk reminds me of a trip to Okinawa a few years back. There the whelk, which was served as sushi was the size of a bowling ball and was awesome. l do not believe anything was done to it as l watched them remove it from the shell and slice it. The guts were easy to recognize and discard.The whelks may have been precooked before they were removed from the shell but l did not see that. The smaller whelks served in the Caribbean are served ceviche style and are cooked a bit as well before making the conch salad.

                    1. I only have experience with what's in the second picture - "Bai top shell" aka Golbangi. It's often tossed with gochujang, sugar, vinegar, and some veggies and served as a drinking snack. Here's a google link so you can get the idea https://www.google.com/search?q=%EA%B...

                      Also great in a thai-style salad.