Conch Salad and other culinary delights
Conch Salad is one of the staples in the diets of Bahamians and other islands in the Caribbean region on our amazing planet. It is a tasty mollusk that can be served any number of ways-as a salad, scorched, cracked (fried), steamed, stewed, or …
Sadly, conch is becoming harder and harder to find for your average person just out to dive and get a meal for their family. You usually have to go deeper and further out just to find a few for a meal. In the Bahamas, you can only take conch for consumption if it’s mature and its outer shell “lip” is turned—called a Broad Lip. You must leave smaller conch alone. It makes sense and yet, I fear that these mollusks cannot reproduce fast enough to fulfill the demand. I am no expert-it’s just an observation. I am just a lover of these creatures both for their tasty meat and their beautiful shells.
When my family and I go out in search of conch for a meal, we only take what we need. I wish everyone did this. They are hard work to get out of their shells and clean. It is a process and not an easy one at all. As I have written previously, thankfully my hubbie is an expert at this and makes short, but messy work of it.
Following is our family recipe for a basic conch salad. We don’t use specific measurements and many of the ingredients, like salt and hot pepper, need to be to your personal taste. But the basics are pretty standard. Sometimes it is fun to change it up.
We have a good friend who is very talented in the kitchen recently show us a way to make an Oriental Conch Salad that is truly superb. I gave my word not to share his secret recipe, so I won’t. But it is based on a recipe for Abalone—and I write this so anyone who wants to be more adventurous would know where to look for some culinary inspiration. You pretty much treat the cleaned mollusk meat the same.
This recipe is to make a large bowl of Conch Salad as a meal for roughly 3 to 4 people. It could feed more if this is being served just as an appetizer.
First, find a large bowl
First find a large glass, porcelain or plastic bowl. No metal bowls.
3 to 4 Conch-cleaned, washed, sliced and diced into small pieces
Sour Orange Juice-Fresh is preferred
Lime Juice-Fresh is preferred
1 to 2 Tomatoes-sliced and diced into small pieces
1 Large White Onions-sliced and diced into small pieces
1 Large Green Pepper (and/or Red or Yellow)-sliced and diced into small pieces
Sour/Pepper Condiment (For those who like “heat”):
Bird or Goat Peppers (Hot Peppers!)
Take a large bowl and combine the conch, onion, peppers (excluding the hot peppers), and tomatoes. Add just enough sour orange juice and lime juice to about cover the ingredients. We tend to use about ¾ sour orange juice to ¼ lime juice ratio. Add salt to taste. Stir and let sit. Stir it occasionally to be sure all ingredients have a chance to marinate in the juice. Let this marinate at least an hour to two—the longer the better! Some people like to keep in the refrigerator at this stage-some do not.
While this marinates, take a little lime juice in a small bowl and gradually add some chopped up or mashed up hot pepper until it has the “heat” you want. Keep this separate. Let this also sit and marinate for a bit.
When you serve the conch salad, offer the pepper sour separately, so those that like “heat” in their conch salad can add it to their taste gradually. If done gently, this can greatly enhance the taste. I personally like just a touch, but cannot eat it if is saturated with hot peppers. But many in my family think the hotter, the better.
Serve in small bowls as an appetizer, or larger bowls as a meal.
As for leftovers, refrigerate, and to reserve, just add fresh lime juice. This will revive it and it will taste just great. This is a great suggestion!
If you have had the fun of finding, diving, cleaning and preparing your conch salad, believe me, it is a meal you will enjoy far more than my words can express. It is an experience you will never forget. And the yumminess will leave you wanting to repeat the experience as soon as you can.