In the evening of Ho Chi Minh City, walking along the road of Vinh Khanh, District 4, with eatery shops stretching, you can feel the development time of snail’s dishes in Saigon. With speacial names like: Noc Snail, Be Snail … Even on Nguyen Thi Minh Khai street, there is a shop named Ay Snail – we will be back to this snails shop later. Food from snails is a popular dish on the streets of Vietnam. It has become a favorite dish of young people and students for dating occasions.
The largest snail supplier in Vietnam
The Saigon people are grateful to Binh Thuan province, which is dubbed “the cradle of snails”, which supplies snails to gourmets in Saigon.
A man named Sang, near Tan Dinh Market, a snail expert, said that: in the past Binh Thuan sea offers 60 to 70 tons of blood cockles (not verified) each day. “So many deaths because of diving to the bottom of the sea looking for scallop and insurers lose their ability to pay,” Sang said. It is also an exaggerated way of the people in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to specialists from Nha Trang Oceanography Institute, Binh Thuan has the sea level is high, so seafood stocks especially the “bikini” mollusks (according to the folk name of drinkers in Saigon) are very copious. And usually appearing new mollusks such as scallop, clams, cockle, oyster….
Binh Thuan is best known for scallops and horn snail. Scallop is a kind of shellfish has two-piece resembles the logo of Shell brand. This type is usually exported and Vietnamese people just enjoy the rest of meat which is not exported. But it becomes rare more and more and people start to leave the local eatery to go to the restaurant.
Recently one kind of scallop becomes famous: type of scallop from Phu Quoc which is as big as a thumb, called “chom chom” scallop. Then there is a type of scallop from the Spratly which is as big as two fingers and as long as a finger.
Grilled adductor muscle of giant mussel – the specialty of Vietnam
The sellers of snail shop only know adductor muscle of giant mussel (in Vietnamese is “coi”) – the hinges for seashell close and open, they do not know what kind of snail, so just follow the “melodramatic marketing” of the wholesaler.
Actually, depending on deep water or shallow water, under the sea there is a bivalve mollusk called mussel. This species is called “diep ban” or “mai cam” in Vietnamese, small as well as large hand and it can reach up the size of two hands.
Bigger mussel more bigger adductor muscle. This type of mussel has a pointed bottom and a spreading top like a fan. Pointed bottom to stick to the bottom of the sea, the top of mussel opened to filter food in sea water.
The snail eaters say in the ear of each other: “Oh my God, this thing that be eaten in March, when it brings the eggs, so delicious!”
Mussel is rare, only can be found in some large restaurants, and do not have in sidewalk eatery place.
Sweet snail of Phan Thiet is now only Phan Thiet people can be able to eat. Sweet snails of Saigon almost are snails from fishing farm. The natural sweet snail has pale brown color on the shell, and snail from fishing farm has dark brown on the shell.
Binh Thuan has a place called Bau Doi, people here use the basket boat to catch natural sweet snail in the sea depths of tens of meters. Each basket boat can drop dozens of nets, accompanied by bait fish. Each time of snatching can catch a few sweet snails.
Sweet snail is not natural has a name like that. If you want to feel the smell of snails most clearly, you can try to get a natural sweet snail which is large size as a table tennis, taking meat of snail, sliced to eat raw. Now, you can feel its perfect fragrant.
But do not try to eat raw sweet snails from fishing farm. Who knows what kind of food people use to feed them, do they use antibiotics or not.
Phan Thiet city, Binh Thuan province also has another attractive snail is melo melo with the shell has many patterns. At first glance, it makes people think of a certain pattern of a certain ethnic minority.
This type of snail, people in Hon Heo, Kien Luong, Kien Giang usually use to make the bait for catching squid and octopus. Because of the female octopus often enter the shell of the melo melo to give birth.
Unfortunately, the melo melo never come to Saigon. The melo melo which are sold in Saigon are fake, its name is Voi snail, because the shell has no pattern, its meat is not as good as the melo melo, especially the type of big melo melo look like the foot in Phan Thiet.
Another type of sea snail, many in Phu Yen, Khanh Hoa, is becoming expensive, it is dog conch. This grilled dog conch is great, sweet, crisp, and good smell. In the mid-1990s, grilled dog conch were only VND 2,000 / kg, so far some places in Nha Trang have sold this snail VND 9,000 / 1 dog conch. Saigon is more expensive. Dog conch is scarce, expensive because Saigon people love it.
In addition to sea snails, also a kind of fresh water snail is scarce, and not often sees at the shop. It is only available at some markets such as Thai Binh, Ban Co, Ben Thanh. That is the black snail. Someone called lat snail.
Black snail is one type of snails, but the shell is not pointed like yellow snail, caught in the wild, not the farming snails which the meat is very soft and not tasty. Grilled black snail is delicious.