Balitong Curry (Gulai Balitong)
November 05th, 2007 32 Comments

Balitong Curry (Gulai Balitong)

Gulai Balitong (Balitong Curry)
Gulai Balitong (Balitong Curry) pictures (4 of 6)

As a big fan of shellfish, there is a ritual that I always practice whenever I go home to Penang–scouting for the scarce shellfish species and had a fix or two (or three) of them. They are the kind of shellfish that I constantly crave in the United States, but could never make them here because they are simply unavailable in the US.

This past trip home, I made no exception. The morning after I arrived, I went to the nearest wet market in search of fresh balitong (a kind of Malaysian sea snails) and gyowa (Hokkien name for a type of local clams with very sweet flesh). I was handsomely rewarded with abundant fresh supplies of them…

When I was growing up, my mother and my aunt would prepare a balitong concoction that I absolutely adore–made with freshly ground spice paste, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and mung bean noodles/tang hoon (optional). The very thought of this sweet and savory curry never fails to make my mouth water. After consulting both my mother and my aunt, I cooked up a pot of balitong and sweet potato curry. Unfortunately, my mother is no longer cooking due to her health condition, but my balitong did win over my father. He hadn’t had this dish for a very long time that he finished more than half of them in no time. Eagerly, he sucked the flesh out from the spiral shell and devoured them with great satisfaction. When I asked him if I had cooked it well, he said “ho chiak” (meaning delicious in Hokkien dialect) and that was the sweetest accolade possible!

I have to confess that I used a tad too much ground spice paste in this first trial of mine, but it was tasty nonetheless. I am just glad that I now learn another much-cherished family recipe, one that I will keep with me forever…

Related Recipes/Posts:

  1. Stir-fried Savory Clams
  2. My Favorite Childhood Dish (Lala)
  3. Drunken Clams
  4. Shellfish Recipes
  5. Photoblog: My Favorite Shellfish

Note: I didn’t keep track of my measurement when making this dish; I also bought freshly ground spice paste from the wet market, so I don’t have a scientific recipe that I can share. If you are interested in the recipe, please email me and I will try to share the cooking method with you.

Click Images Below for Similar Recipes:

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32 comments... read them below or add one

  1. K & S says:

    I’ve never seen shellfish like this, looks really delicious!

  2. Nags says:

    wow! those shellfish are pretty.. and i love sweet potato. i make stir fry with it :)

  3. Anh says:

    RM, this is fantastic! I am a big fan of whelk or sea snails. And I believe cooking them in spicy paste is wonderful! Lovely photos, too!

  4. Piggy says:

    I’m a fan of balitong too! When I was a kid in Penang, my mom used to cook balitong or cockles as afternoon snacks!

    Btw, i didn’t know that the other clam is called gyowa… Other than balitong and cockles that I can recognise by the look, I call everything else “la-la”. ;-)

  5. team bsg says:

    imagine if one sucks out the curry juice from the dark chambers like a hiss of thunder & the thing goes oozing out the other end OMG !

  6. aria says:

    these is such a beutiful dish, i can tell i would want to eat about 50 of those little beauties! so tropical and exotic, i’m a jealous blogger.

  7. PrincessJournals says:

    seput sedut. sedap!

  8. Krizia says:

    In Tagalog, “Gulai” means “vegetable.” What does it mean in Malaysian?

  9. Marvin says:

    This looks wonderful, Rasa. The balitong don’t look very big. Is there much meat inside them?

  10. Cynthia says:

    The fish market is one of the first places I head to too whenever I go home to visit :)

  11. Ming says:

    Your email is not working. Is there an alternate email?


  12. Precious Pea says:

    I have never eat balitong cooked this way as i usually have it stir-fried kam heong style.

  13. audreycooks says:

    Gosh, you are really hanging the carrot in front of me! The last time I had that was in Penang last year at Bali Hai Gurney Drive. It was soooo good.This kinda food, you gotta have friends eating together, slurping and sucking! hmmmm.

  14. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Ming — my alternate email is Having problem with my other email now…

  15. lucia says:

    i love balitong but have problem sucking out the flesh. not used to it yet i guess. many a times after sucking hard both end, still the flesh refused to come out. can be very frustrating eating them this way.

  16. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    I had these snails in VN a few summers ago in a coconut curry lemongrass sauce and it was sooo good. I wish I could find those snails here too! :(

  17. joey says:

    That looks delicious! I like discovering new shellfish so I’ll take note of these just in case I get to visit Malaysia one day :)

  18. lucia says:

    er… where did my comments went to? i thought i had already made a comment but i don’t see it.

    anyway… my comment.

    i love balitong but i have problem eating them as most of the time despite sucking hard a few times, i find it hard to get the flesh out. did not ‘master’ the technique yet i guess! :)

  19. Ray Chung says:

    I’m no pro but have indeed picked up a trick or two from my “kampung boy” father. He taught me the art of eating balitong. The trick is to suck from the back end first. This places the ‘flesh’ flushed tight at the back end. Now, with a strong suck from the front end, the momentum should get the flesh out easy.

  20. Krizia says:

    Thank you for stopping by and replying to my comment!

    Hmm Gulai Gulai…Vegetable Curry :) yum!


  21. Claude-Olivier says:

    No way to find these small beast here ;-) but i can smell your curry here ;-) cheers

  22. The Expedited Writer says:

    OMG RM, I haven’t had balitong in ages! I love sucking their sweet flesh out and eating them is not exactly the most pleasant experience for others but I don’t care, it’s fun! HEhe…are you in Penang now? Will u still be around for CNY? Cos I’m going back to Malaysia for CNY, my “kampung” is Penang! :D

  23. Khunying says:

    We have this shellfish in Thailand, but I have not seen it here in Seattle. Looks good though! Yum!

  24. Retno Prihadana says:

    Looks tasty and delicious!

  25. teckiee says:

    hehehe… there was once I could not even suck the meat out of the balitong.. pai sheh cos I wasted about 20 over balitong until I decided not to try anymore.

  26. MyF says:

    Hi RM,
    Balitung is my fave!!! My godmother will cook it – Malay style for me – she knows I love it so much! You should try this type of cooking – Balitung masak lemak with nenas… Put chillis, fresh slices of pineapples, coconut milk, …. and the usual onions, asam, etc. Guaranteed satisfaction! I hope she cooks some for me to blog about it soon…

  27. Nate 2.0 says:

    Beautiful photos. I don’t normally eat snails, but would be willing to give your dish a try.

  28. Ming the Merciless says:

    Your photography is simply amazing. You must be super talented and artistic.

    BTW, did you go to art school? The photographs here all look very professional.

  29. Godfrey says:

    What’s “balitong” in English?

  30. Rasy says:

    One of my childhood all time favourite dish!! Though these snails are really hard to find nowadays in Cambodia..:( I haven’t had them for years!!

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