Sunday, 20 April 2014

Food Profile: Periwinkles "Isam" & Whelks

Adding small snails to Native Nigerian soups makes it a mouthwatering delight any day, any time. Infact the more condiments you add to Nigerian soups such as snails, the more value you add and the richer the soup becomes.
There are two common types of small snails used and these are known as Periwinkles "Isam" (Igbo) and whelks "Mgbi (Bayelsa)", "Ngoloo(igbo)", "Ngongo (Calabar)". Periwinkles are small greenish marine snails which are added to soups or stews. Whelks on the other hand have a milky white color and are slightly larger than periwinkles. They are quite popular in the eastern and southern parts of Nigeria. These snails mentioned are quite smaller than the large Land snails and are used in cooking soups like Afang soup, Okazi soup. Nsala soup e.t.c.
Periwinkles and whelks  require minimal cooking. Just eight to 10 minutes of boiling or stir-frying is enough.
For some meals, i cook these small snails with the shell while at other times, i prefer cooking it without the shell. Unlike periwinkles, whelks are usually removed from the shell first. This is usually done to make it easier to "gut" the unwanted part of the snail which is the intestinal tract (the dark, innermost end of the whelk). After gutting, it's then washed properly before steaming.
Periwinkles on the other hand can be cooked with or without the shell. When cooking periwinkles without the shell, the first thing to do would be to remove the brownish round tongue before rinsing and adding to whatever soup you are preparing. When cooking periwinkles with the shell, it's best to wash thoroughly with clean water to remove the dirt on the shell before chopping off the bottom part to create an air hole. This makes it easier to suck out the meat. After this, you can now boil with clean salted water or add it at the final stage of your cooking. 
Whelks & Periwinkles being removed from their shells by the market seller

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  1. I've never cooked with snails! Honestly, they are a bit outside my comfort zone. This makes me want to try, though!

    1. You are missing a lot O! You should try it out....really nice!

  2. I just love snails. The strange taste and crunchiness just makes me happy.

  3. I buy whelks from my fishmonger, didn't know they could be used for Nigerian cooking...I look forward to getting some and trying out your recipes. Thanks for being so informative.

    1. Thanks prima. Do keep us posted k ;)

  4. The whelks are actually called "ngoloo" by ijaws(bayelsa and rivers) not igbo. "Ngbi" is the Ijaw name for oysters. Btw, I love your blog. Nice Work!


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