Not only does Halong Bay have thousands of limestone islands and stunning caves jutting out of its silent waters, but also a special seafood dish with a unique name and shape.
“Nail Snail” is a type of snail found only in the sea, and the name of this snail species is derived from its nail-like shape. This mollusc is found in the shallow muddy sand at the estuary and mainly eats plankton. When the tide rises, it emerges from its burrow to feed before quickly returning underground at the first sign of trouble.
Nail snails are caught throughout the year, but are best eaten at the beginning of the rainy season (around May and June), as this is the time when they are fully grown and have the best meat. After taking them from the sea, they must be soaked in water for about 15 minutes to clean the sand and debris from them. After this, they are soaked in diluted lemon juice before processing.
This snail is quite healthy and delicious. In traditional medicine, it is often used to treat respiratory illnesses, and spicy snails can aid digestive problems. The meat of the nail snail is sweet and contains many minerals such as iron and calcium. It can be served into many delicious and unique dishes such as fried nail snail with Vietnamese coriander, tamarind, pineapple, shiso or water spinach along with a variety of nail snail salads. In Vietnam, it is often washed down with a cold glass of beer or a good white wine.