How To Make Croatian Snails (Puževi)

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Post author Mate

Written by our local expert Mate

Mate is Croatian and owns a transport company in the Balkans, he has visited over 30 countries. He is an expert on all things transportation as well as food and wine.

Do you like rainy days? Until recently, the rain just meant staying indoors, occupying the time cooking or playing with the baby donkey, and waiting for the sun to come out of hiding and once again shine.

Not now, now there is a silver lining to the heavens opening up. Sometimes we even pray for rain because that’s when the snails come out of hiding! You’re wondering why we’d care about the snails? It’s to eat them; snails are a delicious meal here in Croatia…

Collection

Once the rain has been tumbling for a few hours or a day, it’s time to don the wet weather gear and begin the search. It’s always best to wear a pair of gumboots and a raincoat as the fields are muddy and it often starts raining again.

Once adequately dressed,  it’s time to get out into the fields and start searching for the slippery suckers. If you want to eat snails where we live, you have to collect them yourself, and you have to act fast as often there are many people out hunting for them.

 

expat eats sails
This expat hunted these slippery suckers down.

The hunting process isn’t for everyone; you have to bend down and rummage through the long, itchy grass and look for just one particular kind of species. There are several species around, so you need a keen eye and a strong back. On average, it takes about 3 hours to collect enough of the right kind of snail to feed our family of 6-10 people.

 

When it rains the snails come out of hiding and my boy likes to find them. #chasingthedonkey in #croatia #snails #snail #puz #puż #pużi

A photo posted by SJ in Croatia (@chasingthedonkeycroatia) on

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Snail Preparation

Once you have your bag of snails, it’s time to hang them. You can’t eat freshly caught snail straight away, which is a little torturous in some ways. Instead, you need to place all of the snails into a mesh bag and hang them in a protected area, such as from the fig tree or in your garage. It’s important to let them hang for at least ten days and no more than three weeks; this allows enough time for the snails to excrete the gunk from their insides out.

expat catches snails
Snails hanging out to dry

Let’s Cook

Just about the time you had to forget about your snail collection, it’s time to eat them. Firstly you must give the snails a good wash in cold running water. It’s best to do this a few times; you really need to be sure that the snail gunk is washed away. Once washed, the snails bounce back to life and try to escape your clutches – fortunately, they are so slow you always have time to pick them back up and plonk them back into your bucket.


Almost Done

Now it’s time to throw your snails into a large pot with plenty of sea salt & fresh cold water and bring them to the boil. The snails need to boil for a good 20-30 minutes, and then they are ready to devour.

Croatian Cooking Snails_Puzevi

Presentation

We serve the snails on individual plates, with a few toothpicks. These toothpicks are the perfect tool to remove the flesh from the shell.  Once the fleshy goodness is removed from the shell, we dip them onto a mix of homemade vinegar & extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes with a little pepper. An asparagus and egg salad and a chunk of freshly baked bread makes this the perfect accompanying side dish.

Snails. Yes or no for you? Please let us know in the comments box below. If you’ve eaten them before, did you like them? 

Comments (35)

  1. I’ve never tried. I’m going to ask my parents though to see. Must be more done in the village then Zagreb eh? Thanks for sharing this.

    1. You’re oh so welcome! Yes, please do ask them. I’d say it’s less likely to be done in Zagreb, given there are a particular sort you need to find and trust me, those little critters are tricky to find in the bushes! Do come back and let me know what they say. I LOVE that a Croat can enjoy the blog.

  2. my family loved them, I remember going to pick them like you describe in the countryside after a rainy day, my father would then keep them in an area with mesh so they would not escape. Once cooked my mum would take them out of the shell, and make a mixture of parsley, garlic, olive oil and breadcrumbs. Put the empty shells in an oven dish, add a bit of mixture in each shell, then the snail, then a bit more mixture and a bit of butter on top. Grill in a hot oven a few minutes. I’ve actually never tried them but my father and sister absolutely devoured this dish…

    1. And a tiny bit of salt and fresh black pepper ?
      Put the receipe on your blog E, as this is one of them hidden treasures tourists never get to experience.
      Not for me however, for me it has to have something with minimal two legs and max. four.

      1. hey Pim, I see a problem there. In order to put the recipe in our Blog, I would have to go out searching for snails, hang them up from the fig tree, cook them and all that + take step-by-step pictures…. but I hate snails….. yuk!! couldn’t touch them to cook them !!! It was my mum who used to do all that!!
        I will leave SJ to try out my Mum’s recipe (with a bit of salt + black pepper of course) – and she can tell the story… :) and put a link back to our blog ;)

    2. Ohhh that sounds nice. I will try them like that next time, and let you know how we go. I like the sound of garlic. Maybe next time when it rains you can drive down and share them with our family :)

  3. Ewwwwww! I’m vegetarian so obviously coming at this from a particular standpoint, but still…! Sorry, it has to be a ‘no’! :)

    1. You’re excused. If you do not eat a cow, then it’s understandable you’re not keen on slugs :)

      1. Thank you! I have to say I think it’s fantastic that you’re doing this. And I think free-range meat is the best way to eat it!!

  4. I’ve had snails when I lived in Croatia ,yes I was only like 8 I only remember good things about the snails,like looking or them after the rain ,I think my mum did them with a garlic sauce so good SJ that that you embrace the snail in such a french culinary way …

    1. Thanks Betty! I simply love how my little adventures remind you of your cihldhood :)

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