Try This Snail Pasta That Can Only Be Found And Eaten At The Isle Of Pines, New Caledonia
Snail pasta for dinner, anyone?
New Caledonia is attracting tons of visitors not only for these beautiful and precious waters—but also for their famous edible land snails, the “Escargots de l’Ile des Pins.”
Australian chef Justine Schofield visits the beautiful island of New Caledonia for Tropical Gourmet to get a closer look at this famed delicacy and we find out what makes this snail so delicious and popular.
Hunting for fresh escargots
The Escargots de l’Ile des Pins are a variety of local eating snails that can only be found at the Isle of Pines and not anywhere else in New Caledonia or the world. They are forest-dwelling snails and have made Isle of Pines a dream destination for many travelers wanting to experience something unique.
In the earlier years of the Escargots de l’Ile des Pins’ popularity, it was considered endangered since it had to picked from the forests of Isle of Pines. But now, with the surging demand for the island’s large and delicious snails, many have turned to farming the snails.
Chef Justin, however, still got the unique experience of scouring the forests of Isle of Pines to hunt for these elusive snails. It takes a really good eye to see a good eating snail and not the regular ones. She says you need to have an experienced local help you hunt because you can’t just pick out any snail you see in the forest because some of them can be poisonous. These snails camouflage with their surroundings so they’re a bit hard to locate but according to locals, they usually travel in pairs so if you see one, you’ll be able to find its pair not too far away.
Cooking the escargot
The Escargots de l’Ile des Pins are purged and boiled for at least two hours before it can be used in any kind of cooking. The boiling process is essential to soften the meat of the snail, which can be tough and hard to eat otherwise.
A classic and traditional way to eat these snails is by stuffing them with butter and garlic—a French twist to a Kanak staple.
But for an elevated escargot dish, Chef Justin cooks with Le Meridian Chef Pascal, who shares his signature snail ravioli.
The snail is cooked in butter, garlic, and shallots. This is then stuffed inside freshly made pasta, before cooked in a rich lobster bisque. If you’re looking to replicate this dish at home, you can substitute the snail with shrimp or lobster to keep its seafood core.
While snails don’t have a distinct kind of taste to it, what makes it special is its texture. As Chef Pascal describes it, it is “between land and sea.”
Watch Chef Justin’s tour of New Caledonia and get some tropical gourmet recipes in Tropical Gourmet, airing on Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD, starting March 11, Monday, 8:30 p.m. Catch replays throughout the week.