Ginataang Kuhol (Escargot in Coconut Milk)
I love and miss eating snails! That doesn’t sound right! That sounded too full-on with too much yucky factor 🙂 . I think I would call it with the more exotic French word for snail, escargot, instead.
When I was a young girl living in Marag, we used to eat a lot of escargots, which are called bisukol in Ilocano `(and kuhol in Tagalog).
My memories of bisukol (escargot) is deeply embedded into my happy family nostalgia. Eating these little critters bring back memories of strong family bonding.
In our province of Marag in Kalinga-Apayao, Philippines, dining with bisukol involves both hand and arms actions. To prepare the bisukol, prior to cooking, get a fairly heavy ladle or metal spoon and tap to break the bottom of each snail. This will allow the snail flesh to come out easily. And the most fun way of eating a bisukol is to pick one up with your right hand ensuring that the snail opening is facing down onto your plate, then banging your right wrist into your slightly extended left wrist a la Psy Gangnam Style (the horsey bit) until the snail meat comes out and drops on your plate. It was very satisfying watching everyone doing the arm action at the dining table. LOL
In the West, every paraphernalia seems to be available for most food, exotic or otherwise. Like with escargot, when eaten in fine restaurant, you will get a snail tong (like the ones with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman) and a two-prong snail fork.
Snail fork or arms action, escargot is exotically delicious! Below is a very satisfying recipe.
- 2 lbs escargot (kuhol)
- 3 cups coconut milk
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoon ginger, cut into fine strips
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp shrimp paste (1½ tbsp fish sauce)
- 2 green long chilli pepper
- Kangkong leaves (Swamp cabbage/ water spinach), cut and trimmed into manageable size for comfortable dining 😉
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Tap each of the snails’ bottom to break, then wash the escargot thoroughly, removing all the grits. Did you know if you live in the UK, those pesky snails in your garden are edible. According to Gordon Ramsey, intrepid gourmets can go to the garden to gather up the snails. As an added bonus, these wild garden snails taste far better than those which are farmed. However you cannot just put garden snails directly to the pot and eat them. There are steps to be taken first for health, taste and safety reasons. First leave the snails watered but without food for two days to get rid of any toxin they might have ingested. On the third day, give them carrots; watch their droppings. If they start to poop orange substance, wash them again and put them in a sealed container into your fridge. when they are soporific, they are ready to cook. Thank goodness you can get snails, which have been purged and ready to cook.
- Heat up the cooking oil in a large pan or better yet a wok (kawali),
- Saute the garlic, onion and ginger.
- Drop in the escargots followed by the coconut milk.
- Bring to a boil and then lower down the heat and continue to simmer until the coconut milk turns slightly creamy.
- Stir in the shrimp paste or fish sauce.
- Add the Long chilli peppers and Kangkong ( water spinach) and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Check and adjust the seasoning by adding more fish sauce or salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with freshly boiled or steamed rice. Arm wrestle your way to a delicious escargot. It is fun.