Sea Snail (Fresh)
Sea Snail, Conch, Gastropod
Traditional Chinese Name:
This is a cooling and sweet ingredient.
Another one of those ingredients that you don’t really see in soups growing up as a child – unless you happen 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?
Just like all seafood, the conch is a cooling ingredient across the Traditional Chinese Medicine spectrum.
How do I prepare it?
- I talk about how to prepare this ingredient in the soup “Recovery Herbal Soup”. I’ve used both dried and frozen conch here, so great references if you’re looking to use this in your own soups!
- To prepare the dried conch, simply soak in cool water until it soften, or you can drop directly into boiling soup water.
- For fresh conch, I will definitely blanch them and give them a little scrub-a-dub before using them in soups. The opportunity here is that fresh or frozen conch also make amazing side dishes (that could parallel abalone, I’d say) when dipped with soy sauce!
Where can I buy it and cost?
- You can buy fresh conch at most Asian supermarkets (they reside in the live tanks in Chinese supermarkets)
- Frozen conch is definitely available in the frozen sections and cost for 1 conch is about $12 CAD
- Fresh sea snail or conch costs around $100-120 HKD in wet marts depending on size and breed
- Did you know that abalone is actually a type of sea snail? These are the expensive kinds!
- Sea snails are great additions to soup as the add that little bit of salty, seafood flavour and compliment the main protein quite nicely (such as chicken and pork)
- Great protein that is low in fat
- You can eat them as part of the meal. I’ll usually cook it as a whole and then remove from the soup and slice it up to be served before service.
- According to Traditional Chinese medicine, sea snails are nourish the Yin and the kidneys and to improve eyesight
Be sure to thoroughly clean fresh conch or sea snail before boiling them
- If you’re buying them whole, you may need to crack the shell yourself (but the seafood vendor may also do it in Asian supermarkets and wet marts)
- You’ll want to only keep the centre, fleshy part of the conch (not the ends or guts or stomach) as the primary portion to consume, but actually all of the conch is edible
Looking to build your basic Chinese Soup Pantry?
Check it out in my video to learn more!
Hi Lady Tong, loved your website. You surely go to great lengths to explain each ingredient used in your recipes. Have never seen one like yours. Keep on keeping on. Really appreciate your work. : D
Just wanted to know if i can substitute the fresh snail with abalone? Can I use the can type – abalone? It is quite difficult to get fresh sea snail even frozen ones.
Dear Siew May, for sure! Abalone and fresh snail produce very similar tastes in the soup and are interchangeable. The only difference is price 🙂 And how you prep it! But for sure! Good luck and thank you for all your supporting words. It’s been a long learning journey for me getting things translated and constantly badgering the wet mart ladies on what this is and what that is and how to cook things! There are just so many options! Thanks for following! Lisa