Babbalùciu (Pisan Helix) Sicilian Recipe
Updated: Oct 12, 2021
"Babbalùciu” is the word for Pisan Helix in Sicilian dialect. This is a small and white land snail very common in the countryside of Palermo and Trapani. The name babbaluci derives from the archaic Greek “boubalàkion” (small buffalo) probably due to the horns. Snails have been consumed as food in Sicily since time immemorial, as well as being used as a medicinal remedy in popular tradition.
A traditional recipe from Chef Giovanni's grandmother used to cook during the hot summer months in Sicily.
Chef Giovanni's Grandmother recipe
The preparation of the dish is apparently simple, however the cleaning phase is laborious. It's important to clean the snails well so that they would be ready to be eaten easily from the shell. Another word, you need to be ready to cook these snails in "chi cuorna nisciuti ri fuora" manner.
Once you have the Babaluci snails in hand, it takes 1 week before you can start cooking this delicious recipe!
1 Kg - Snails
160 ml - Extra virgin olive oil
16 cloves - Red garlic from Nubia
1 bunch - Parsley
3 tbsp - Fine sea salt
1 Teaspoon - Freshly ground black pepper
Once You Get The Snails
Prepare some fresh bread crumbs in the form of small pellets, to be placed in the basket of snails in order to cleanse the stomach, and leave them in the basket for a week and close it with a net to prevent the snails from escaping.
Clean The Snails
Soak the snails for a couple of hours to get them out of their shells. To avoid picking them up around the house, cover them with a perforated lid.
The snails should then be washed under running water, gently rubbing them with your hands together to remove all sands and impurities. This cleaning step must be repeated several times until the water comes out clean. It will take approximately 10 cycles.
Getting The Snails Ready
Put the snails in a pan with cold water covering them for 4 fingers, close them with a lid and let them rest for half an hour. This operation is essential to get the snails back out, which during the washing process will have withdrawn back into the shell.
After this time, put the pan with the snails on the smallest fire in the kitchen and set it to low to bring the water to a slow boil. The slow heating of the water will make the snails to remain out of their shells, which is essential for easy eating.
Drain the snails well.
You can now prepare the sauté, or agghia 'ngranciata. In a pan, sauté the sliced garlic in olive oil. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and ground black pepper. Finally, when the garlic has just browned, turn off the heat.
With the heat off, add the finely chopped parsley to the sauté, then mix everything together. With the sauté still hot, season the snails and mix everything together, mixing well.
Pour into a large bowl and leave the snails to flavor with the sauce for at least a couple of hours before serving.