Giant Snails' Health Risk Hype Matches Their Size
B. Borrell Casals/Frank Lane Picture Agency/Corbis
If you want to do your part to devour America's invasive species problem, these recipes will get you started.
First, a simple recipe for nutria from Dave Linkhart of the National Trappers Association.
"I take the hindquarters of a nutria and put it in a crock pot with one large onion and cajun seasoning. You can put anything else you want, carrots, potatoes, whatever. After 3 hours in the crock pot the meat falls right off the bone."
Although some pythons in the Everglades may be high in mercury, if you find an uncontaminated one you can snack on the snakes.
Asian Style Python Steaks:
-1 kg of Python Steaks
-4-5 peeled and sliced Shallots
-1 tablespoon Turmeric powder
-5-7 cloves, peeled and pounded garlic cloves
-2-3 inches long, peeled and pounded ginger
-10 stems Lemon grass (peeled; tender parts finely chopped and pounded)
-2 tablespoons paprika
-2 tablespoons white rice wine Salt
-2 tablespoons Peanut oil
-2 quarts spring water
First boil and poach the steaks with lemon peel, lemon grass stems, and skins of shallots, garlic and ginger in the quart of spring water. When the flesh is soft, take the Python steaks out and let cool. Next, saute’ shallots on low heat until lightly brown and add the ginger, garlic and all other spices. Next turn up the heat until the toasted aroma arise from the pot. Add flaked Python, rice wine, and more spring water and reduce heat for 10 minutes.
Recipe from: wildlifetrapper.com
Lionfish took over the Caribbean, but now people are taking to lionfish. There are whole books dedicated to lionfish recipes.
Simple Steamed Lionfish:
Coat aluminum foil wrap in olive oil then insert lionfish, along with onion, tomato slices, bell pepper, carrot, pineapple, squash, zucchini, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and thyme. Place over a fire for 6 to 10 minutes. Serve with brown rice and a slice of fresh mango on the side.
Recipe from: lionfishhunter.com
EPA, Wikimedia Commons
Eat a Vampire
Sea lampreys decimated the fish population of the Great Lakes. The blood-sucking lampreys drained the fish until they died or were susceptible to diseases introduced through the gaping wound the lamprey left behind. But in medieval Europe, the lampreys were a prized delicacy.
-1 live 2 kg lamprey
-1 deciliter oil
-100 g butter
-1 bottle red Bordeaux wine
-1 small glass Armagnac
-4 garlic cloves
-600 g Bayonne ham
-2 tablespoons flour
-1 glass broth
-1 bouquet garni
-6 slices country-style bread salt
Bleed the lamprey by hanging it by the head and cutting the tail over and container to collect the blood. When there's no blood dripping anymore, dip the lamprey in boiling water for 1 minute.
Take it out and peel it. Cut in 4 cm-thick slices. Put the slices in the container of blood.
Cut the white part of the leeks into 7-8 cm-long whistles and put them in butter.
Add the diced ham, the shallots and onions. Sprinkle with flour and with the wine and broth. Add the cloves and bouquet garni. Add pepper, salt a little. Add two crushed garlic cloves. Bring to a boiling point, then cook for 45 minutes over low heat.
45 minutes later, add the pieces of lamprey in the sauce, cover and cook again for 45 minutes.
Remove the slices of fish, and them in another pan or skillet with Armagnac.
Pour the equivalent of a glass of warm sauce over the blood in order to dilute it, and poor in the skillet. Stir well. Put back the lamprey, season and cook for 10 minutes with the lid on. Beat the sauce with butter.
Meanwhile, toast the bread and rub it with the remaining garlic.Put the lamprey in a shallow dish, on the slices of bread.
Put the leeks all around with the sauce.
Recipe from: meilleurduchef.com
NASA, Wikimedia Commons
Pig Out on Feral Hogs
If you are sure the wild pig you have is disease free, then pig out with this German-style recipe.
Braised Wild Boar in Sauerkraut:
-2 (20 ounce) cans sauerkraut, drained
-3 pounds wild boar roast
-1 large onion, quartered
-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
-4 carrots, cut into 2 inch pieces
-1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Pour one can of sauerkraut into the bottom of a Dutch oven. Set the roast on top of it, then arrange the onions potatoes and carrots around the roast. Cover with the remaining can of sauerkraut and pour in the beer. Cover with a lid.
Bake in the preheated oven until the roast is extremely tender, about 3 hours.
Recipe from allrecipes.com
Tasty Tiger Prawns
Another species invading Louisiana's waters is the tiger prawn, Penaeus monodon.
Grilled Lemon and Garlic Tiger Prawns:
-1/2 cup olive oil
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lemon, juiced
-1 orange, juiced
-1 teaspoon dried basil, or to taste
-2 tablespoons white wine (optional)
-30 tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
In a glass dish, mix together the olive oil, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, orange juice, basil and white wine. Add the prawns, and stir to coat. Cover, and let marinate for 1 hour.
Heat an outdoor grill to high heat.
Thread prawns onto skewers. Grill for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until pink.
Recipe from allrecipes.com
The waterways of America are being taken over by a variety of carp species, most notoriously the jumping silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix). With the right recipe, the fish will jump out of the water onto your plate and right into your stomach.
-4 silver carp fish steaks
-2 tablespoon of olive oil
-2 ounces of unsalted butter
-3 oz of white wine
-1 tablespoon of lemon juice
-½ cup of roasted almonds
-Seasoning to taste
In a skillet, preheat olive oil and butter until very hot
Place seasoned carp steaks and brown both sides
Add white wine and lemon juice
Place carp steaks with sauce into a baking pan
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until done
When served, top carp steaks with sauce then top with roasted almonds.
Recipe from: chefphillipe.com
Correction: May 9, 2013: 3:18 p.m. USDA spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa said that the snail found by a gardener in Houston was not, in fact, a giant African land snail, but a rosy wolf snail, which is a fairly common snail in Texas. “We have no reason to believe that the Giant African snail is in Texas,” Espinosa said. She advised if you find a snail and want it identified, do not touch the snail, but scoop it into a plastic container, put a lid on it and contact your local state department of agriculture.
Everything is bigger in Texas, even the invasive species and the health fears surrounding them.
Recently, a gardener discovered a giant African land snail (Achatina fulica or achatina) in her yard in Houston. News outlets raised an alarm about health risks from the supersized snails.
The menacing mollusks can host the parasitic rat lungworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which can infect humans if the snails are eaten raw or undercooked, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The parasitic infection sometimes leads to a rare type of meningitis, known as eosinophilic meningitis.
“The parasite dies over time, even without treatment,” according to the CDC’s website. “Even people who develop eosinophilic meningitis usually don’t need antibiotics. Sometimes the symptoms of the infection last for several weeks or months, while the body’s immune system responds to the dying parasites.”
Angiostrongylus cantonensis infections are rare in the U.S., noted the CDC. One reported case in 1993 resulted from a boy swallowing a slug on a dare. The boy won the bet, but also caught the parasite. He was ill for about two weeks, but his body fought off the infection without treatment.
Other species of mollusks, including native slugs and snails, and some frogs and crustaceans can host the parasite as well. Mollusks pick up the parasite if they eat infected rat feces.
Doctors don’t know if the giant African land snails invading the U.S. carry the parasite. The Michigan Department of Agriculture warns that even if the snails don’t carry A. cantonensis they should still be handled with care. The snails, like many other animals, can harbor salmonella or other bacteria.
While the health risks from the snails may be relatively small compared other dangers Americans face everyday, such as automobile accidents, the ecological and economic risks equal the gigantic proportions of the snail.
The supersized snails threaten Texas vegetation and crops, since the voracious pests will eat just about any plant and will even chow down on stucco and other building materials.
The snails are prolific breeders and don’t need to mate with others of their kind since they carry both male and female genitalia. The hungry hermaphrodites can lay more than 1,000 eggs per year. Their indiscriminate diet and fecundity has made the snails a serious and well-established pest in the Caribbean, Florida, and parts of Asia.
IMAGE: Giant African land snail, Achatina fulica (Drajay1976, Wikimedia Commons)