fbpx

At my local E-Mart, they’ve been selling sea snails (Golbaeng-i 골뱅이) next to the shrimp. I had looked at them a few times but frequently passed them up. Then one evening, one of the staff had steamed up a bunch and was trying to get shoppers to try it. My impression was that Korean shoppers themselves were a little scared of buying sea snails in their shells. They’re used to the canned variety. Or rather, they’re used to just ordering up a spicy sea snail salad when they’re out drinking, which is some damn fine summer drinking food.

I gingerly selected a toothpick and tried one of the sliced snails. The flavor was intense, like all the good umami flavors you get from the best shellfish and a little livery taste of lobster tamale. I snatched a pack up before swallowing.

I usually eat sea snails as Golbaengi Muchim 골뱅이 무침, which is that salad I mentioned earlier. It’s shredded leeks and white onions with sea snails and a slightly sweet garlicky vinegar and gochujang-based dressing. This time, I wanted to have something akin to what I had when I visited Paris as a teenager. If you have an oven or even a toaster oven, you can pull this off easily.

I laid down some rock salt on a foil-covered baking pan. This helps hold the shells in place.

I made a mixture of softened butter, chopped garlic and some herbs from my mini herb garden. Fresh parsley works fine too.

I rinsed the snails and removed their little “shoes.”

Next was stuffing time. I just jammed healthy chunks of the butter mixture in them and set them on the rock salt, making sure the butter side faced up.

I baked them at 200 degrees Celsius until the butter had melted, which was around ten minutes. I then set them out to cool.

They were amazing! That night I had them with some red snapper that I filleted myself (I’m trying to become more comfortable working with fish), sliced cucumbers and a bright kimchi slaw.

The next day, I bought a garlic baguette and toasted the slices. That was a soothing summer snack, downed with some chilled white wine.

O-oh yeeaahh!

[More pictures on Flickr]

Don't make mistakes other travelers have made!

Get regular emails with insider tips on how to maximize your visit to Korea. Sign up now!

ZENKIMCHI EXPERIENCES
Tour Tips Newsletter

You have Successfully Subscribed!