Escargot, or cooked land snails, are a French delicacy that has a taste that’s a delightful blend of earthy and slightly sweet notes, somewhat akin to mushrooms.
But there’s more to escargot than just its taste. The texture, the way it’s served, and the rich history behind this dish all contribute to its allure.
In this article, we’ll explore its taste, texture, and appearance and the different ways it can be prepared and enjoyed.
How Does Escargot Taste?
When it comes to the taste of escargot, it’s a bit like a blend of chicken and clams but with an earthy undertone that sets it apart.
It’s slightly sweet, reminiscent of mushrooms, and has a rich, buttery flavor that’s often enhanced by the sauces it’s served with. The texture is tender yet slightly chewy, similar to calamari, adding another layer of interest to this unique dish.
Varieties Of Edible Escargot
Escargot comes in various species, each with its unique flavor and texture. Here are a few of the most popular types:
- Petit Gris: These small snails have a delicate, subtle flavor that’s slightly sweet and earthy. They’re a favorite in many French dishes due to their tender texture.
- Gros Gris: Larger than the Petit Gris, the Gros Gris snails have a more pronounced flavor. They’re often used in recipes that call for a stronger snail taste.
- Bourgogne: Also known as the Roman snail, this is the largest variety commonly used in escargot dishes. They have a robust, savory flavor that stands up well to rich sauces.
- Garden Snails: While not as commonly used as the other varieties, garden snails can also be prepared as escargot. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor that can be enhanced with the right seasonings.
What Does Escargot Compare With?
If you’re trying to imagine what escargot tastes like, here are a few foods that it’s often compared to:
- Mushrooms: The earthy flavor of escargot is similar to mushrooms. Additionally, both have a tender texture that’s somewhat similar.
- Clams: In terms of seafood, escargot is most often compared to clams. They share a similar texture and a slightly sweet, oceanic flavor.
- Chicken: Some people find that escargot has a taste similar to chicken, especially when it’s prepared with a buttery sauce.
- Calamari: The chewy yet tender texture of escargot is reminiscent of calamari. If you enjoy the texture of calamari, you’ll likely enjoy escargot as well.
Does Escargot Taste Fishy?
While escargot compares to certain types of seafood, it doesn’t taste distinctly fishy. The flavor is more earthy and slightly sweet, with a hint of the sea that’s more akin to clams than fish.
However, like many foods, the taste of escargot can be influenced by its preparation. If you’re concerned about a potential fishy flavor, I recommend thoroughly cleaning and cooking the snails, as this can help minimize unwanted tastes.
Does Escargot Smell Fishy?
The smell of escargot is typically not fishy. Instead, it’s more likely to carry the aroma of the ingredients it’s cooked with.
Garlic, butter, and herbs are commonly used in escargot recipes, and these tend to be the dominant scents. The aroma of these ingredients not only adds to the overall dining experience but also enhances the flavor of the escargot.
A well-prepared dish of escargot should smell appetizing and inviting, with the rich, savory scents of garlic and butter taking center stage.
How To Eat Escargot
Here are a few common ways to enjoy this French delicacy:
Served in Shell
Traditionally, escargot is served in its shell, often in a special escargot dish with indentations to hold the shells. A small fork removes the snail from the shell, typically eaten with a piece of bread, to soak up the delicious sauce.
Served out of Shell
In some cases, escargot is served out of the shell, often in a dish with garlic butter or another type of sauce. This makes it easier to eat, as you don’t have to worry about removing the snail from the shell. It’s still typically enjoyed with bread to make the most of the flavorful sauce.
Escargot à la Bourguignonne
This is a classic French preparation of escargot. The snails are removed from their shells, cooked with garlic, parsley, and butter, and then returned to their shells for serving. The result is a rich, buttery dish that’s bursting with flavor.
Escargot in Pastry
Escargot is often served in a puff pastry or vol-au-vent in this preparation. The pastry adds a delightful crunch and a mild, buttery flavor that complements the escargot beautifully.
Each variation offers a unique way to enjoy escargot, allowing you to appreciate this delicacy in all its forms. Whether you prefer the traditional in-shell serving or a more modern take, there’s no wrong way to eat escargot.
How To Buy Escargot
When buying escargot, you should keep a few things in mind to ensure you’re getting the best quality. Here’s what to look for:
Buying Fresh Escargot
Fresh escargot is often sold live, similar to how you’d buy fresh clams or oysters. Look for snails that are active and responsive. Avoid any that are damaged or have a strong, unpleasant smell.
Fresh escargot is typically available at specialty food stores or markets with a wide seafood range.
Buying Canned Escargot
Canned escargot is a more accessible option for many people. These are typically pre-cooked and ready to use. When buying canned escargot, check the expiration date to ensure it’s still fresh. Also, look for brands that don’t use a lot of additives or preservatives.
Buying Frozen Escargot
Frozen escargot is another option. Like canned escargot, these are usually pre-cooked and ready to use. Check the packaging for any signs of freezer burn or damage.
Buying from a Restaurant
If you’re new to escargot, trying it at a restaurant might be a good first step. This allows you to experience how it’s traditionally prepared and served. Look for French restaurants or other establishments specializing in European cuisine, as they’re likely to offer escargot.
Escargot, also known as land snail, might be listed under this name in some stores or on restaurant menus.
Whether you’re buying fresh, canned, or frozen escargot, or trying it at a restaurant, remember that the best escargot is the one that suits your taste and culinary needs.
What is the texture of escargot?
The texture of escargot is tender yet slightly chewy. It’s somewhat similar to calamari or clams.
How is escargot traditionally served?
Traditionally, escargot is served in its shell, often in a special escargot dish with indentations to hold the shells. It’s typically eaten with a small fork and a piece of bread to soak up the sauce.
What are the different ways to prepare escargot?
There are many ways to prepare escargot. It can be served in or out of the shell, cooked with garlic and butter, or even served in a puff pastry.
What are the health benefits of eating escargot?
Escargot is a good source of protein and is low in fat. It also contains important nutrients like iron, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin E.
Can you eat escargot raw?
No, escargot should not be eaten raw. They need to be properly cooked to ensure they are safe to eat.