Is Escargot Caviar the new “IN Ingredient”? If you ask Dominique Pierru he will say yes for sure! While Pierru is not the inventor of snail caviar, I will say he is an innovator and visionary. Escargot Caviar is nothing new, but Dominique Pierru has found a new way to cultivate, care for, and process the snail eggs to maintain the up most in purity to the flavor and freshness of the caviar. Back in the early 1980′s Escargot Caviar was in the market for a short time , However the taste and integrity of the caviar was lacking substance and consistency and was subsequently withdrawn from the market.
Today you can find Escargot Caviar in high end establishments that are “in the know” With an annual production of 600 KG – 800 KG this year, the market saturation very low and it’s only being distributed in a few places. The production yield amount is 200 kg a year from 60,000 snails. In contrast, traditional Caviar extracted from sturgeon has an average production amount that peaks over 80 tons a year, legally supported under the CITES agreement written by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna. That puts the current Escargot Caviar production at just 0.0011% of current Sturgeon Caviar production. In terms of price, Escargot Caviar sells from $50 an ounce and up before markup
As you can imagine, the flavor of Escargot caviar would be influenced by its diet and environment, so the saltiness or brininess found in some caviars is absent. According to connoisseurs, the taste of Escargot Caviar has been described as “a stroll in the woods after the rain”. Upon harvest, the snail eggs are seasoned with the perfect blend of French Guerande sea salt, rosemary, citric acid, and starch. Close your eyes, imagine that same smooth burst of flavor that you’ve grown to love, next you get a light asparagus flavor, and sometimes you can pick out notes that remind you of a nice roasted mushroom juice!
The most common source of Escargot Caviar is the Gros-gris snail (helix aspersa maxima), which originally hails from North Africa. That particular breed is highly suitable for caviar production because they are able to generate eggs 4 times annually when prompted properly. It’s a different breed from the ones used in production of regular escargots as some of those do not survive breeding or have a much lower egg production amount.
If you ever get an opportunity to taste some of this delicious “Natures Caviar”, indulge yourself. You will not be disappointed!
Here’s some photos of the snails laying their eggs, different presentations, and even a video in which Dominique Pierru discusses the growing and production process as well as taking you into the kitchen with some of Frances top chefs!
Enjoy and good eats!
Peace, Love, and Amazing Food Always!
Chef Nick Quay