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April 13, 2011

Slugs — They're what's for dinner

In yesterday's Washington Post "Urban Jungle" feature, Patterson Clark focused on the common leopard slug, found wherever gardens flourish.

He described the biology and life cycle of the creature and then went off on a most interesting tangent: are slugs potential food for people?

He wrote, "Since thay have little or no shell, slugs secrete much more protective mucus than do snails, but some people see them as unpackaged escargots. However, several factors may give pause to the potential slug chef:

• Slugs should never be handled with bare hands, let alone eaten raw. From contact with rat feces, slugs may carry a parasite that can cause a potentially fatal brain disease in humans. Thoroughly cooking a slug — or a snail — should destroy any dangerous parasites.

• Slugs are more likely to eat toxic fungi than are snails. Slug harvesters are advised to purge the poison from captive slugs by feeding them grain meal and lettuce for many days before cooking.

• Soaking slugs in a vinegar/water solution will kill them and remove much of their mucus, but the cooking water must be changed a couple of times to get rid of all of the slime. The foul-tasting digestive gland in the slug's tail should be removed after cooking.

Clark's piece concluded, Bon appetit!

But we're just getting warmed up.

My Crack Research Team™ decided to pursue this topic and at the end of an in-depth article on slugs as food by Deane Jordan on EatTheWeeds.com found a recipe, which follows.



10 cooked and cleaned large slugs

1/2 cup of cornmeal

1/2 cup of flour

3 eggs

1/4 cup of heavy cream

4 tbs. of butter

4 tsp. of sour cream



First chop the slugs into fine mince, then add to the eggs and beat together with the heavy cream. Sift the dry ingredients and then add two tablespoons of butter to that mixture. Add the egg and cream mixture to the dry ingredients and whip with a whisk vigorously for one to two minutes. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan and pour the batter into 2-1/2 inch cakes, in two batches. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream. Yields four servings.


Not up to a major culinary effort like that detailed above, but still hankering for slugs?

For you, Jordan has a simpler suggestion: "Slugs that are still unpalatable after boiling can be fried until crisp and tried, or ground into a flour and added to other meals for nutrition."

More: "According to an article in the August 2006 Journal of Experimental Biology, raw slugs are 5.1% carbohydrates, 0.5% fat, 7.1% protein and 85% moisture. After cooking they are probably lower in carbohydrates, most of which are contained in the mucus lost in cooking."

Wrote Jordan, "Slugs were in the diet of many Native Americans in the northwest U.S., where they have some 27 different kinds. German immigrants to that area gutted them and fried them in batter."

Is it lunch time yet?

April 13, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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Yeah, you know, there's some stuff that's almost impossible to reach that's kind of stuck on to the back of my downstairs toilet tank - I get wildly ambitious and scrape it off about once every six or seven years or so, using a mirror and a special bent scrapey-thing that I created just for the task - and I guess it has a combination of air dirt and toilet bowl effluvia (is that a word?) and various types of animal hair and everything it can trap, and all kinds of whatever your imagination can come up with, and it has a rather attractive yellow-brown ochre color, with hints of moss, and here and there a streak of magenta, and I'm sure that it would be crazy to waste those scrapings, when there is some fabulous sauce, or scum-butter or even stew-flavoring, or actual stew itself, that could be distilled or cooked or whipped up, with a little ingenuity and just the right combination of additives, out of it. But then, it might not be ready, yet. Maybe a couple more years....mmmmm....

Posted by: Flautist | Apr 13, 2011 7:30:18 PM

I used to eat them. What was I thinking?

Posted by: Kay | Apr 13, 2011 2:38:13 PM

As my mother, the classic French chef, once said: eating escargot (snails) is simply an excuse to consume garlic-parsley butter.

Hold the slugs - I'll make the garlic butter.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Apr 13, 2011 1:01:24 PM

Sorry, but I don't think so.

I have a little rule; I eat nothing infected by fecal rat parasites.

Posted by: andrew chase | Apr 13, 2011 12:57:45 PM

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