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How To Make Croatian Snails (Puževi)
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
Hi there! It’s raining today in Montreal Quebec Canada and I’ve recently discovered your website. Your articles make me smile and nostalgic for my many summers spent in Croatia… I think your website may be slowly convincing me to move there myself 😉 This snail article really made me chuckle. I remember like it was yesterday being at our family home in Bralić and my aunties going out and collecting snails. I was about 4!years old and totally grossed out! They hung the bag on a hook on the shady side of the house and after a few hours, because of what I am guessing a loose knot, the snails snailled their way out and we’re ALL OVER THE WALL! I’m pretty sure I screamed and definitely know that I refused to eat them later on that night! Now as an adult, I live those little guys smothered in garlic butter and some nice fresh crusty bread. But will ever forget that first “snail experience”? Never. Thank you for this article and can’t wait to read through more of your recipes!
Very cool. I so appreciate localvore ways.
Njam, ali moraju se znat pripremit da bi bili ukusni.super je sta su puzevi divlji ulovljeni
Depending how you make them… Chewy kind of like chicken gizzard stew
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…
AHHH YES, they are a little chewy 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
I hope donkey’s are not on that list Pim….?!?!?!?!?
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 😉
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 🙂
WTF SJ! I’m going to have a sleepless night tonight!
Oh sorry….. note: keep these off the menu when you arrive.
Ewwwwww! I’m vegetarian so obviously coming at this from a particular standpoint, but still…! Sorry, it has to be a ‘no’! 🙂
You’re excused. If you do not eat a cow, then it’s understandable you’re not keen on slugs 🙂
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!!
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 …
Thanks Betty! I simply love how my little adventures remind you of your cihldhood 🙂
ate them a couple of times, but it’s not my cup of tea 😉
At least you gave them a go Rene! You never know, unless you try.
yuk! I thought only the french ate snails! lol
Privlaka or Paris. Same, same Nathaya….
Don’t be shy… tell us what you think here.
I will never look at a snail the same way again !
Maybe throw down some snail bait to avoid looking them 🙂