After buying a few kilos of snails at the market, the first thing that needed doing was what you see in this photo. Using a knife the shell of the snail is smashed on one side to make a hole.
After that they were put in a pot with some water over the fire. Here you see just after they have come out of the boiling water. You can also see the water vat. Many people in Cambodia use these to store their water in. We don’t need them in the city, as we have running water.
Some of you guessed the photo in a previous post- you were right! It was of us de- shelling snails. We used some small sticks to pull the cooked snail out of the shell. The holes made in the shells earlier made it easier.
- And now for the seasoning! This is actually a dish we make at home sometimes. We usually use beef rather than snails, it’s called “Char Gdar”.
On the left there is a bowl of something yellow. It’s a mixture of roots and herbs crushed together using the mortor and pestle you see in the middle. The mixture includes a yellowy-orangey root, a white root that looks a bit like ginger and lemongrass.
Lime juice, lime leaves, garlic and chilli are also used for flavour, along with salt, sugar, pepper and in this case prahok. But if you don’t have prahok you can use fish sauce. The green leaves in the top right hand corner are from a plant called “mreh-bro”. If you buy it in a bottle in Cabramatta, Sydney the label says “Holy Basil”.
Peanuts are also used to flavour this dish. But first they need crushing. This type of flat woven basket is also used for sorting rice, drying fish and probably a million other things.
Time to cook! The yellow mixture and garlic goes in first.
I think the snails were added next and the other seasonings, and finally the holy basil. Almost ready to eat.
The finished product. Can you guess which dish is the snail char gdar? I love the smell and flavour of char gdar so I was looking forward to eating this dish. Although I must say I’d prefer beef to snail, but the dish as a whole is so “chngoi” (good smelling food) that I wasn’t too concerned about what meat was in there. However when I tried it it was too spicy for me! I forgot that when we make it at home I control the amount of chilli that goes in. So I filled up on the other dishes, I might tell you about them in another blog post in the future.