Steamed “Gong Gong” (Conch) with Chilli Sauce
These edible sea snails are affectionately called “gong gong” here in Singapore and some places in South East Asia like Batam. You can usually order this dish at hawker stalls which sell barbecue seafood such as sambal stingray and sambal kang kong. “Gong” means “silly and blur” in our localspeak, but I seriously doubt that consuming this seafood will cause any brain damage in the long run ;)
But don’t take my word for it because I must be pretty “gong” to start with. I have no idea what the proper name of this shellfish is in English. I have known it as “gong gong” all my life. So I did some research and found out that it is commonly referred to as “conch” or “whelk” in English. People seem to use both terms quite interchangeably so I’m rather confused which is more correct.
Amidst the confusion, I prefer to simplify life by just calling them “gong gong” – I think the local name has a nicer ring to it. If you like shellfish like “gong gong”, do check out my easy steamed cockles (see hum) with garlic and chilli recipe too.
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I’m not sure if those in other parts of the world (especially the Western countries) are familiar with this variety of seafood. Does it make you salivate or is this something that they force you to eat on Fear Factor? I don’t think they should be that scary since they are pretty similar to escargots.
The local version is usually cooked by steaming and the meat is then fished out either using a toothpick or by pulling out its tail before being dipped in a home made chilli sauce. The entire part of the meat (i.e. sans the tail) is said to be edible though I personally remove the bottom black part.
Like mussels and most seafood, this is much cheaper to cook at home. I bought the shells (1.5 times the amount you see in the photos) at Sheng Siong Supermarket (which I just discovered is a paradise for fresh and unusual food ingredients) for roughly S$2. I think this dish will set you back by about S$8 if you order it outside. And it is prepared in almost no time at all.
- 500g “gong gong” (edible sea snails/conches/whelks)
A) Chilli sauce
(mine is just a very simple and lazy version)
- light soy sauce
- 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
- 2 bird’s eye chilli (chilli padi), cut
- juice of 1 lime
1. Scrub the shells gently with a brush and rinse in water.
2. Steam the shells over high heat for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the shells.
3. Meanwhile, prepare chilli sauce by combining ingredients (A) in a small condiment bowl. Serve with the cooked “gong gong”. Provide some toothpicks or dessert fork for fishing out the meat out of the shells.
- Be careful not to overcook as the meat will become rubbery and tough. The bigger the shells, the longer the cooking time.
- You can steam it with a few slices of ginger if you prefer.
- You can use a mixture of green chilli and red chilli for more colour.
- You can add a bit of plain water to (A) if you prefer it less salty and more watery.