Guests at Nigerian parties crave well cooked Nigerian peppered snail, it is loved in homes and patrons shell out large sums of money for it in pubs/drinking parlours and restaurants. It is an elite among Nigerian small chops (hor ‘d oeuvres, appetisers). The snail used is the ginormous African Giant snail, sometimes called Congo meat, this recipe is simple yet very tasty. It will be ideal for serving your guests for Christmas.
As a child, I always wondered why it is called Congo meat, though I never got round to asking or finding out, I am still curious, so anybody out there who knows, please enlighten us. Although eating a snail is taboo where I come from, it was a regular feature in our home. These creatures are so enticingly delicious most people will defy the gods, ancestors or whomsoever made culinary laws. There is also a myth that if a pregnant woman eats snails, the child will drool buckets of saliva, it has since been debunked even from my own experience.
Rich in Iron, vitamin A and a bunch of other nutrients, snail meat is a flavourful delicacy used in stews, soups, chopped for stir fry, see Nigerian palm oil jollof rice, it can also be mixed with a pepper sauce and eaten alone.
Nigerian peppered snail is easy to prepare once the snail has been washed of its slime. The slime is removed using lime, salt, alum or garri, alum being the cheapest, most effective of all of them. I use alum to wash snail used for cooking Nigerian soups and lime for other dishes though I still finish off with diluted alum water.
Cook your snails until a fork can pass through it, it should still be crunchy. Once the snail is soft, it means it has been overcooked. Overcooked snail is floppy and tends to slightly stick to the teeth, you will know the texture is just not right.
The slow frying of the onions is to achieve a sweet, moderately soft onions. The pungency will be removed and only the sweetness left behind.
To prepare Nigerian peppered snail
10 medium snail 1 very large onion 1 tomato 5 scotch bonnet 2 seasoning cubes salt 1/4 cup vegetable oil
Put shelled and cleaned snails into a pot with enough water to cover it, add salt and one seasoning cube.
Boil until snail is cooked. As soon as a fork can easily pierce it.
Take off the heat, drain into a sieve and set aside.
Cut onions into 3 large ring about 1/2 inch thick. Chop tomato and pepper.
Set a frying pan over medium heat, add vegetable oil. When hot, add snails and fry for 1-2 minutes. Do not fry for too long, it will become chewy.
Add onions, tomato and peppers. Try and separate the onion layers a little. Sprinkle with the other seasoning cube and salt. Stir and fry for 1 minute then reduce the heat to medium-low.
Cover and cook till the onions is tender but not mushy or cooked, to the point where it still has a tender bite. Stir, taste for seasoning take off the heat and serve.