Scungilli: Overlooked Gastropod

December 29th, 2010 § 3 comments

Scungilli are common channeled whelks or marine snails. They are rarely encountered on menus anywhere except in Rhode Island (in the form of snail salad) or in very traditional, soulful Italian neighborhood restaurants. The waiters call the whelk “skuhnjeel”. You can get skuhnjeel in a garlicky salad;  in a marinara sauce or topping pasta in a blazing sauce alive with chili peppers.  HG, reared in a Bronx Italian-Jewish-Irish neighborhood, became an early convert to skuhnjeel and often devoured it at Vincent’s and Umberto’s restaurants in Little Italy.   For some reason. skuhnjeel was a favorite with mob guys.   The late Joey Gallo met his final end while on his way to a late night skuhnjeel feast.   Difficult to find great skuhnjeel in New York these days.  Making them edible is very labor intensive.   Frozen skuhnjeel is expensive, mushy and lacks authenticity.  In Paris, the common northern whelk is known as the bulot.  Much easier to prepare,  for some reason, than its New York/New England neighbor, bulots are a cheap and delicious treat.  They are served with mayonnaise. When HG visits Paris in February, a dozen oysters and a dozen bulots will begin his meal at the Le Stella brasserie. Bring on the Muscadet.

§ 3 Responses to Scungilli: Overlooked Gastropod"

  • Jeremy says:

    Interesting side note: In Carrol Gardens many of the old school Chinese restaurants make a Scungili salad as an appetizer. I have also noted that in the Arthur Avenue section of the Bronx, that there is a hopping trade in fresh Scungili at the fish markets.

  • kathleen cherrier says:

    Believe it or not….Scungili is served in a little Italian restaurant, Scampi, in Vero Beach, FL
    both in a salad heavy with garlic, olive oil and lemon as well as in a Fra Diavolo sauce over fresh pasta.Family run and quaint.

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