Delicious dishes from Halong Snails


Favored by the Mother Nature as an unbelievably beautiful coastal province, Halong is famous for its variety of fresh and delicious seafood specialties such as crabs, prawns, and snails (ốc).

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Visiting any random snail restaurant in Halong, gourmets might be surprised with a very long list of different exotic snails there. Each species possesses distinctive appearance and a very distinctive flavor. Coming to Halong Bay without trying these dishes is just a big waste.

With the diversity of Halong’s snail, remembering all the names takes forever, not to mention their distinguish appearances, let’s only list some popular dishes such as ốc hương, ốc đĩa, ốc gai to, ốc vặn, ốc mút, and ốc len. All you can do is being an adventurous traveler, trying a random dish that catches your eyes or going with a local, who can show you the difference among the ốc. Although Halong chefs have a similar recipe to mix dipping sauce for almost every snail dishes, including fish sauce, rice vinegar, chili, sugar and ginger, you may still feel clear differences if you taste different dishes.

Eating snails in Halong, gourmets may have to use a local tool, a very strange long pin, to hook the snail out from its shell. It is said that Halong snails always lie deep inside its shells, unlike snails living in other provinces in the Northern Vietnam. Using this tool properly will help you conquer any Halong snails. However, you can eat some species of snail without using any tool, just by sucking or bumping the snail onto your dish.


Halong Snails via Cruises in Halong bay

Nerita is a genus of medium-sized to small sea snails with a gill and an operculum, marine gastropod molluscs in the family Neritidae, the nerites.


The thick shell is broadly ovate or globular and low-spired. It has a smooth surface. The shells are spirally ribbed or show some axial sculpturing. The ventral side has a large columellar callus or parietal wall. The callus shows small pustules. The aperture and the edge of the columella are usually dentate with fine or robust teeth. The calcareus operculum is thick and can be smooth or with a granular structure. The whorls are covered with strong spiral cords.


Several subgenera have been proposed over the course of time, but various authors in the past could not agree on the placement of many species. The subgeneric placement of the species of Nerita was revised by Vermeij in 1984. However, inconsistencies still remain over the use and validity of many taxonomic names, because species show a wide variety of colors, patterns and even details of shell morphology, which has given rise to many synonyms.

Charonia tritonis

Halong Snails via Halong Luxury Tours

Charonia tritonis, common name the Triton’s trumpet or the giant triton, is a species of very large sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Ranellidae, the tritons. Reaching up to two feet (or 60 cm) in shell length this is one of the biggest mollusks in the coral reef.

The shell is well known as a decorative object, and is sometimes modified for use as a trumpet (such as the Japanese horagai, the Maldivian sangu or the Māori pūtātara).

C. tritonis is one of the few animals to feed on the crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster planci. Occasional plagues of this large and destructive starfish have killed extensive areas of coral on the Great Barrier Reef of Australia and the western Pacific reefs. The triton has been described as tearing the starfish to pieces with its file-like radula.

Much debate has occurred on whether plagues of crown-of-thorns starfish are natural or are caused by overfishing of the few organisms that can eat this starfish, including C. tritonis. In 1994, Australia proposed that C. tritonis should be put on the CITES list, thereby attempting to protect the species. Because of a lack of trade data concerning this seashell, the Berne Criteria from CITES were not met, and the proposal was consequently withdrawn. While this species may be protected in Australia and other countries (such as India), it can be legally traded and is found for sale in many shell shops around the world and on the Internet.

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