Oc gao or rice snails in Phu Da Islet of Cho Lach District in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre are known for their unique sweet taste.
The snails have large white flesh without mucilage like other snails so people can cook right away instead of a lot of preparation. Rice snails can be found in many provinces like Tien Giang, Ben Tre, Dong Thap and Can Tho in the delta.
Fishermen on Co Chien River in Ben Tre say that the name gao of the snails was given by local people in the past. The snails appear in large numbers in May so many people catch them to eat and sell in the market. Those who had difficult lives even traded the snails for rice. Thus, the name gao or rice was born to explain the legend of these snails and to honor Co Chien River which has generated such delicious snails.
Gao snails are in their birth season in July and live at the bottom of the river eating alluvia and plankton.
According to Mr. Ba, a local fisherman on the Co Chien River, the snails have a cheesy, delicious and crunchy taste during the fifth lunar month.
People can cook these snails with coconut juice, chilli sauce, fish sauce hot pot, banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake) or salad. However, the best dish is always boiled snails with fish sauce with chilli and garlic. Especially, it is more wonderful to enjoy the food on the river and listen to don ca tai tu (Southern opera).
Local authorities have banned big ships from entering into Phu Da Islet to preserve the living environment for gao snails and keep the area safe from any potential pollution.