Now I'm not Italian, and I'd never tasted this delicacy until I started dating my husband. I was introduced to it at my future mother-in-laws house, where it was a staple. I have to admit, it was love at first bite, and I immediately asked for the recipe, which turned out to be pretty simple. (BTW: My husband's not Italian either, but his mom adored Italian food, and they did live in a predominately Italian neighborhood on Long Island where fresh and canned scungilli were fairly easy to obtain.)
So what exactly is scungilli??? Simply put, it's a large mollusk with a spiral shell that's found along the Italian coast line. There is also a type that is harvested in the waters off the east coast of the U.S. Sometimes, scungilli is mistakenly called conch, but it's actually a large marine snail that belongs to the whelk family. It's a pretty fine distinction.
Traditionally served as part of an Italian Christmas eve meal, it can be tossed into marinara sauce or prepared as a seafood salad with onion, celery, and a simple dressing of oil, vinegar, lemon juice and seasonings. We love it both ways.
My recipe is pretty simple. Start with a good marinara sauce. Homemade is, of course, preferable. (Scungilli is currently running about $12 a can locally, so you want to show it some respect!) Season your marinara with hot pepper flakes to taste. Open and drain canned scungilli and rinse well with cold water. Get your marinara sauce as hot as possible and remove from heat. Immediately add the rinsed scungilli, and slap a lid on to let them heat through. This will keep them tender. (NB: My husband actually likes his portion chewy, so he simmers his portion!)
These are best served over friselle biscuits, which are peppery, hard, biscotti like breads. The friselle have to be dipped in hot water before you coat them with sauce. We haven't been able to find them locally yet, so we just stick to pasta.So, if you'd like to get adventurous, give scungilli a try. You may just find you like them!
Please visit our Foodie Friday hostess, Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum. If you're not a seafood lover, I'm sure you'll find something else to whet your appetite.