Croatian Cooking: Snails – Puževi

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Croatian Coking: Snails

Do you like rainy days? Up until recently rain just meant staying indoors, occupying the time by cooking or playing with the baby donkey. 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, its 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 a number of 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

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 10 days and no more than 3 weeks, this is to allow enough time for the snails to excrete the gunk from their insides, out.

expat catches snails
Snails hanging out to dry

Lets cook

Just about the time you had 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? 

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Comments (34)

  1. Njam, ali moraju se znat pripremit da bi bili ukusni.super je sta su puzevi divlji ulovljeni

  2. So funny, my husband is in Croatia and last week his friend got all bunch of them snails and they tried to make a meal..ha ha ha ha… He said it tasted like very nasty garlic flavor chewing gum…

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  4. Sorry SJ, but I don’t eat them (remember: must have two or four legs).
    However, I can provide you with a recipe:
    After cooking, pick them out of the shell, and prepare a butter with (plenty of) garlic, pepper, salt, parsley.
    Put some of it in the shell, put the snail back in, add some more of that butter, and put them in a preheated stove for let’s say ten minutes.
    If you like, top them of with some grated nice cheese (Pagki Sir !) and some breadcrumbs.
    Any experiment with the butter always is worth the trial, a pinch of sage, a sniff thyme, a drop of fresh lemon juice, just try it and see what you prefer most.
    Oh, and put some french bread in the stove together with them snails.
    Great to dip that juice with.

    1. Okay, i do like the sounds of this myself and I think Mr. CtD will also.
      Although my guess is our Dalmatian family will say it’s too complicated and too fancy pants. I’ll try this and put up the recipe when we next do snails. WHich with all of this rain, should be soon.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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!!

  8. 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 …

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