Editor's note: In the hunt for what to do about the various mix of invasive species found in Florida, we are running a series that not only describes the problems caused by these plants and animals but, well, offers a culinary solution. Tweet us (@WLRN) your ideas and tips or email us a recipe: WLRNMIA@gmail.com.
GIANT AFRICAN LAND SNAIL
Origin: East Africa
Problem: This snail is considered one of the most environmentally damaging in the world because it can eat over 500 different species of plants and even the stucco from homes. Not only do the snails damage tropical and subtropical agricultural systems, they have male and female reproductive organs and reproduce rapidly. Giant African land snails can also carry rat lungworm which may cause meningitis in humans if people either handle live snails or eat improperly cooked snail meat.
Solution: Nigerian-born chef Margaret Lanier co-owns Sheri's Restaurant in Opa-locka. Sheri's is an African restaurant serving mainly Nigerian dishes. For nine years, she's offered her country's delicacies -- from egusi stew to pounded yam.
But her eyes light up when she hears about giant land snails.
"If Americans realized how tasty they are, people could make a lot of money," she says.
Giant land snail is frequently served as a finger food -- much like you'd eat boneless chicken wings at a bar. The meat is low in fat and cholesterol and is relatively easy to cook once it's been cleaned.
6 Large land snails
Alum (a powdery chemical that helps get rid of the slimy goo from the snails)
DISCLAIMER: Improperly prepared snail meat can be dangerous. According to Lanier, washing the snails free of slime with the alum/salt/lemon juice mixture is the best way to prepare the meat for consumption. However, no means of preparation should be considered risk-free.
Remove snails from shell and slice in half, removing the insides.
Wash snails with alum in a mixture of salt and lemon juice.
Wash snails until no longer slimy -- the process may take 30 minutes
Place cleaned snails into a pot of lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour .
Remove from water.
In a separate pot, pan-fry onions, peppers and tomatoes, adding enough water to create a saucey stew. Season as you'd wish.
Cook until snails are tender.
Serve with rice, or pounded yam.
Tomorrow in the Invasive Species Cookbook: Lionfish Watermelon Gazpacho