If you have once tried Vietnamese Cha Oc or snail ham, no matter how it is cooked – steamed, fried, or grilled, you will definitely want to eat it again. Like me, I love its hard-to-describe delicious smell which comes from a combined aroma of garlic, ginger, pipe lolot and perila mixed with minced pork and especially freshwater snail flesh. The snail flesh makes the snail ham a bit chewy but tender to a bite.
Snail ham is a good choice for snack, especially when it goes with chili sauce. People also like to roll snail ham with some lettuce, star fruit and green banana then dip it in sour-sweet fish sauce. Really, really tasty! This dish is also rich of nutrition from the snails and pork. Here are health benefits of snails that you might not know.
The question now is how to cook this snail ham. Read this post further you will figure out, and you will also find from the photos that this snail ham dish is presented similarly to our fried ground pork belly on lemongrass stalks.
Vietnamese Cha Oc or Snail Ham Recipe
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Category: How to Cook
- Method: Steaming and Frying
- Cuisine: Vietnamese
- 400g seasoned raw Vietnamese pork ham
- 400g freshwater snail flesh
- Lemongrass stalks
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 small piece of ginger
- 4 piper lolot leaves
- 5 perilla leaves
- 2 teaspoons of finely-crushed black pepper
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 cup of cooking oil
To cook this snail ham you will need raw Vietnamese pork ham. Actually, it is a mixture of 70% to 90% meat and 10% to 30% fat which is smoothly minced with some seasoning substances by a food processor. For the pork ham used in this recipe, also small amount of wood ear mushrooms and oakwood mushrooms was added.
1. Preparing the herbs and spices
- Cut the lemongrass stalks into pieces of 15cm long for wrapping snail ham on.
- Chop garlic and ginger as finely as possible.
- Thinly cut and chop piper lolot and perilla leaves.
- These herbs and spices are for mixing with the snail ham later to increase flavor of the food.
2. Preparing the snail flesh
As you know that snails are only good for food when they are alive. So when you buy snails you should be careful with picking only snails that are still alive.
- Before the snails can be eaten you need to make them clean off themselves by soaking them in rice water with some chopped chilies for at least 1 day so that the snails release as much mucus as possible to make them clean.
- Wash them one last time then boil them for 5 minutes. You don’t need water to boil the snail because they will release water under heat.
- Pick the snails from their shell, remove the intestine and all black part. Keep only the hard flesh part close to the shell opening.
- Finely slice and chop the snail flesh for making the snail ham later.
3. Preparing the raw snail ham
- In a big mixing bowl, mix the raw pork ham and snail flesh with garlic, ginger, piper lolot and perilla leaves, black pepper and sugar.
- Add some cooking oil to the mixture to make the snail ham less dry.
- Put on food gloves and press the mixture with your hands like you knead bread dough until everything is blended.
4. Wrapping the raw snail ham on lemongrass stalks and steaming
- Shape the snail ham into small and even balls
- Insert a lemongrass stalk into each snail ham ball then squeeze your hand around the ball many times to make sure that the snail ham ball sticks firmly to the lemongrass stalk.
- Repeat to wrap the remaining raw snail ham on the lemongrass stalk.
5. Steaming and frying the snail ham
- Put the lemongrass stalks of snail ham into a steamer pot. Don’t overlap or stack them.
- Steam them until the snail ham get harden both outside and inside.
- After steaming, you can enjoy the snail ham as is. However, the snail ham will get more appealing if you fry them further. You only need to fry until the outside starts to turn golden.
Whenever I make this snail ham I usually make a substantial amount. After steaming, I let the snail ham cool down completely and place the excess amount in the freezer for use later. Then on next use I only need to fry the snail ham a bit and I have a quick delicious dish for my meal. It is quite convenient this way.
Keywords: Vietnamese Cha Oc, snail ham, pork ham, snail ham howto