Ingredient Name: Sea Snail, Conch, Gastropod

Traditional Chinese Name: 螺 (luó)

Another one of those ingredients that you don’t really see in soups growing up as a child – unless you happened to eat it, which our family did not.  It’s actually just as common to use the dried sea snail in soups (which are said to be more flavorful).  The meat itself doesn’t have much flavor, but like pork shank or pork bones, simply dip in a bit of high quality soy sauce and it’s pretty delicious.  The one thing I discovered while on my soup making adventure is that some ingredients cost a fortune!  So while some soups can eat out of your pocket, there are many that are economical.  Yes, that’s the concept of all Chinese cuisine right?

What is this?

  • Sea snails are medium-to-large sized snails which live in the sea
  • They are most popularly known for their large, empty conches which are popular decorative pieces and/or even instruments.  (Some claim that when you put your ear against an empty conch shell, you can hear the call of the ocean.)
  • All parts of the sea snail are edible
  • The meat is soft and chewy

How do I prepare it?

  • Wash and scrub clean (in fresh warm water)
  • Scald briefly in boiling water
  • With a sharp knife, cut off the shell face (hard flat plate)
  • Remove also the stomach by cutting the snail in the middle
  • Cut into thin slices for soup usage

Where can I buy this?

  • You can purchase this fresh from wet marts (although not readily common)
  • It is also available frozen in most supermarkets

What is the cost?

  • Frozen sea snails cost around $80-120 HKD each and vary in price depending on size and breed
  • Abalone is one type of sea snail which is popular and can be very expensive to buy

Any benefits?

  • According to traditional chinese medicine, sea snails are said to nourish the Yin and the kidneys and to improve eyesight
  • Excellent source of protein that is low in fat
  • Sea snails add little flavour to your soup, however this ingredient can provide a lot of texture, especially if you cut them into thin slices and slurp them down with your delicious chinese soup!

Any precautions?

  • Be sure to thoroughly clean them before usage