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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. LOL i didnt know that is the name for it! Now I know.

    Love these series of photos esp the one with the dip!

  2. That’s a simple way of enjoying it. Gong Gong, how people come out with this name in the first place, I wonder.

  3. Now , now hold on your horses, you really know how to salivating me on such an early morning, I need my baby napkin now! :(

  4. Wow…. Even though i have not try this b4, I am sure it taste great…. just by looking at this i am drool….:p

  5. oooh this brings me back in time. This is the must-eat Asian seafood dish. Thanks for sharing! I haven’t had this dish in so long. ;o)

  6. I remember having some in Pangkor Island some time ago. …they were delish – we used sort of a toothpick to yank them out of their shells.

  7. I miss this! I haven’t had this in awhile! The dip sounds perfect!

  8. Hehe so funny to read the definition of “Gong”. :D The shells are very pretty and I like the burlap texture you used here, and all the various textures you pick for backgrounds on your photos. It’s a nice variety!

    I have one little critique (Ooo for once!) about the photos. It would make them look cleaner to wipe the bowl a bit to remove the bits on the side………but if you’re really hungry and in a hurry, skip this step. :wink: Hope you don’t mind my humble critique. Everything else is top-notch! :up:

    • Thanks girl. I don’t mind your critique at all, in fact I love them. It helps me to improve. Thanks for telling me, I want more critique! hehe

  9. The name is so cute ‘gong gong’. Have not tried this before & certainly didn’t know what it’s called. I’ve tried the smaller and darker ‘cousin’ of this sea snail but not this one yet.

  10. I love this, unfortunately my husband does not care for it…the sauce that you have with it looks fabulous!

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