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Steamed “Gong Gong” (Conch) with Chilli Sauce

Steamed “gong gong” served with chilli sauce, a local delight

These edible sea snails are affectionately called “gong gong” here in Singapore and some places in South East Asia like Batam. You can usually order this dish at hawker stalls which sell barbecue seafood such as sambal stingray and sambal kang kong.  “Gong” means “silly and blur” in our localspeak, but I seriously doubt that consuming this seafood will cause any brain damage in the long run ;)

But don’t take my word for it because I must be pretty “gong” to start with. I have no idea what the proper name of this shellfish is in English. I have known it as “gong gong” all my life. So I did some research and found out that it is commonly referred to as “conch” or “whelk” in English. People seem to use both terms quite interchangeably so I’m rather confused which is more correct.

Amidst the confusion, I prefer to simplify life by just calling them “gong gong” – I think the local name has a nicer ring to it. If you like shellfish like “gong gong”, do check out my easy steamed cockles (see hum) with garlic and chilli recipe too.

Edible Snails – Favorite Food or Fear Factor?

I’m not sure if those in other parts of the world (especially the Western countries) are familiar with this variety of seafood. Does it make you salivate or is this something that they force you to eat on Fear Factor? I don’t think they should be that scary since they are pretty similar to escargots.

The local version is usually cooked by steaming and the meat is then fished out either using a toothpick or by pulling out its tail before being dipped in a home made chilli sauce. The entire part of the meat (i.e. sans the tail) is said to be edible though I personally remove the bottom black part.


Like mussels and most seafood, this is much cheaper to cook at home. I bought the shells (1.5 times the amount you see in the photos) at Sheng Siong Supermarket (which I just discovered is a paradise for fresh and unusual food ingredients) for roughly S$2. I think this dish will set you back by about S$8 if you order it outside. And it is prepared in almost no time at all.

(serves 2)

– 500g “gong gong” (edible sea snails/conches/whelks)


A) Chilli sauce
(mine is just a very simple and lazy version)
– light soy sauce
– 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
– 2 bird’s eye chilli (chilli padi), cut
– juice of 1 lime

1. Scrub the shells gently with a brush and rinse in water.
2. Steam the shells over high heat for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the shells.
3. Meanwhile, prepare chilli sauce by combining ingredients (A) in a small condiment bowl. Serve with the cooked “gong gong”. Provide some toothpicks or dessert fork for fishing out the meat out of the shells.

Cooking Notes
– Be careful not to overcook as the meat will become rubbery and tough. The bigger the shells, the longer the cooking time.
– You can steam it with a few slices of ginger if you prefer.
– You can use a mixture of green chilli and red chilli for more colour.
– You can add a bit of plain water to (A) if you prefer it less salty and more watery.


Further reading
Wild Singapore

42 comments on “Steamed “Gong Gong” (Conch) with Chilli Sauce”

  1. such chili sauce though is a lazy way of making it, but it’s like a heaven la!!!!

  2. Looks good! We similar shells here in the Philippines but we usually boil them with lemongrass. I have to try your recipe…

    • It’s a great idea to boil/steam with lemongrass. I can just imagine the aroma. I’ll try it next time together with the fish sauce ginger dipped wc mentioned. Thanks for sharing :)

  3. As usual, nice pictures:)! But I am not a snail eater, escargots and the likes, so I probably would not give it a try. I used to have snail look alikes as pets when I was very young and saw how they died because they got away from their shells :(. It was to be true a rather nauseating view…I still can remember it until now! The only kinds of shell creatures I eat are something like pipis or mussels.

    • Oh dear, I understand why you don’t them esp when you can kept snail-looking pets pets before! I haven’t tried escargot before, and I don’t think I dare. I’m not really an adventurous eater so I am surprised myself that I like this ‘gong gong’ too ;)

  4. Gong gong! My favourite! I remembered order it in Bintan once and fell in love with it, but I dare not try so often bcos really don’t know what is inside when digging out.

  5. This looks so delicious with the chili sauce! I’d love to taste it.

  6. I considered myself quite “gong” most of the time even though I have never tried these snails before. Maybe by trying them, I will be smarter (the reverse effect?). Hehehe!

  7. I think I can’t get the “gongs” here, but I can try with mussels with the chilli sauce that looks so promising! :up:



  8. Gong gong? Haha…funny name, but I like its texture.

  9. I love sea snails. Except I use like ginger fish sauce. :)

  10. we cook our snails in coconut milk..this is an interesting version..

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