These Nigerian peppered snails, sautéed with peppers, onions, and garlic, make a fantastic finger food or appetizer that will leave you licking your fingers!
Snail dishes are very popular in Africa and are sometimes referred to as Congo meat. In Nigeria, they are a party favorite, and the peppered snail tray is usually emptied pretty quickly.
Snails are also eaten in countries worldwide like Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, and Great Britain. The French have a very popular snail dish known as Escargot, which is the french word for edible snail.
What do snails taste like?
Snails have a chewy texture and earthy taste, and they readily absorb whatever sauce you cook them in. Snails are comparable in taste and texture to mushrooms.
If you enjoy seafood like oysters and mussels, chances are you'll enjoy eating snails too!
Are snails keto-friendly?
Snails are naturally keto-friendly and gluten-free and are a great source of protein. 100g of snails contain just 2g of carbohydrates and 16g of protein. They are also a rich source of iron, magnesium, and Omega-3.
Ingredients used in making peppered snail
- Snails: I buy my snails cleaned, from a seafood market or an African store. You can get edible snails fresh or frozen. I prefer frozen snails because they usually come already cleaned.
- Vegetables: Red bell pepper, habanero pepper, garlic, and onions. The habanero pepper gives this dish a robust and spicy kick!
- Spices: bouillon powder, black pepper, ground crayfish, cayenne pepper, and salt. Ground crayfish is an African condiment that is very popular in Nigerian dishes. You can leave it out if you don't have it on hand, or substitute with fish sauce.
- Olive oil: used to sauté the vegetables.
- Lemon: used to clean the snails.
How to wash and clean snails
Cleaning snails might look a bit daunting, but it's not that difficult. I usually buy my snails already de-shelled and cleaned. Even then, I still give the snails a good rub with lemon juice to ensure all the sliminess is gone.
To clean the snails from scratch, boil them in a large pot for about 5 minutes. Drain the water and using a pair of tweezers, pull the snails out of their shell, and place them in a bowl.
Squeeze in some lemon juice and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Scrub the snails with lemon until the sliminess is gone. Rinse with plenty of cold water.
How to make Nigerian peppered snail
After cleaning the snails, you can either boil or fry them. Boiling the snails make them softer and more tender while frying makes them crunchy.
Your method of cooking them will depend on your preference. I have done it both ways, and I alternate between them depending on my mood.
To boil the snails:
Place the snails in a pot and add some water till the snails are completely submerged. Add bouillon, salt, and black pepper and cook for 20 -30 minutes depending on how tender you want it.
To fry the snails:
Add the snails to a pan with enough oil and sprinkle some salt. Fry the snails for roughly 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. Fried snails make a very crunchy snack all by themselves.
Make the snail sauce
Chop the vegetables - habanero pepper, red bell pepper, and onions - and mince the garlic. In a pan or skillet, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil till fragrant.
Add the chopped peppers, bouillon, cayenne pepper, and ground crayfish and sauté for five more minutes.
Add the snails, cover the pan, and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. The pan must be covered so that the flavors and juices can sink into the snails.
About halfway through, taste for salt and spices and adjust if necessary. Serve and enjoy!
This recipe serves 4 and contains 6 net carbs per serving. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
What do you serve with snails?
This finger food is usually eaten alone as a quick snack or party food. You can serve it with cauliflower rice for a filling and delectable, low carb dinner.
Tips when making Nigerian peppered snail
You can omit the cayenne pepper if you don't want it extra spicy. The habanero pepper will already provide enough heat for this dish.
Make sure the snails are cooked covered and on medium-low heat so that the flavors from the peppers and aromatics can fully sink in.
Enjoy these other spicy African low carb dishes!
Peppered Snails - Nigerian Snail Recipe
To clean the snail
- If using fresh snails, boil them in a pot of water for 5 minutes.
- Drain the water and using a pair of tweezers, pull the snails out of their shell, and place them in a bowl.
- Squeeze in some lemon juice and let them sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Scrub the snails with lemon until the sliminess is gone.
- Rinse with plenty of cold water.
To cook the snails
- Place snail in a pot, add water, 1 tsp bouillon, salt, and pepper.
- Boil the snails for 20 -30 minutes till tender.
- Alternatively, fry snails till crispy (about 10 minutes).
To make the snail sauce
- Chop the habanero pepper, bell pepper, and onions, and mince the garlic.
- Saute onions and garlic in olive oil till fragrant.
- Add red bell pepper, habanero pepper, 1 tsp bouillon, cayenne pepper, and ground crayfish.
- Saute for 5 mins.
- Add snails, cover pot, and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.
- About halfway, taste for salt and spices and adjust if necessary.
- Serve and enjoy!
- You can omit the cayenne pepper if you don't want it extra spicy. The habanero pepper will already provide enough heat for this dish.
- Make sure the snails are cooked covered and on medium-low heat so that the flavors from the peppers and aromatics can fully sink in.
- If you don't have ground crayfish, you can substitute with 1 tbsp of fish sauce or leave it out.