delicious conch is a mollusk that is a staple in the Bahamas and Caribbean and a delicacy elsewhere in the world.
One thing I love about living in the islands is that your meals are about as fresh as you can get them. There is very little more mouth watering than a meal just out of the water and on your plate. The flavor just can’t be compared. Whenever we have friends visit, it is the meals we have prepared that they seem to recall with relish and the fun of collecting the conch or catching the fish or lobster something they wish to do again and again. They usually take home a conch shell or two as a souvenir. We recycle them as best we can—usually in our yard.
I am blessed with a spouse who not only knows how to fish; he loves to prepare and cook it too. He is very good at it. There are few meals more enjoyable than when he has a buddy over who is equally talented and they will be working their magic in the kitchen while us gals grab a glass of iced tea, wine or a cold beer and take a seat and just observe. Sometimes we will be given a job to do, like dice the vegetables or squeeze some lime or sour orange juice. I am ok with that. I am even happy to do the dishes. Haha.
But back to conch.
Conch are not hard to catch, although we sometimes have fun with our children’s friends who visit and we warn them about the “Jumping Conchs”… they don’t exist but it gets their attention and makes them focus on the work to do. Lol.
My family, I am proud to say, only takes what we need for a meal; occasionally two meals. Depending on the preparation, sometimes you need to marinate the conch, so you won’t be eating it until the next day. Or if the weather forecast is foreboding and you know you will not be out on the water, you plan ahead. My husband, being an islander, just feels we can always go back and get more—and then it is fresh. And it’s half the fun.
I wish more had this philosophy. When you see people fish and fish and fish and just take and take…and then when it comes time to clean it all to store or prepare many just throw much of their catch away. It is wasteful, shameful and disgusting. I know it is why limits are in place. I wish more were respectful of those limits and would be more forward thinking.
But back to conch.
Cleaning conch is a tough job. It is hard to do. Hard to learn. It is messy, disgusting work. But the rewards are very much worth it. Lol. Once they are broken out of their shells, with all their slime, since in essence, they are large snails; they have to be skinned and cleaned. Then you slice them up depending on if you are making a conch salad, scorched conch, stewed conch, conch fritters, cracked conch (fried conch) or a variation thereof.
Now that I have made your mouth water, in my next blog, which I will post very soon, I am going to share with you our recipe for conch salad. We don’t use a written recipe. We just make it from memory and what our family likes, so you can feel free to use it as a guide. But the one ingredient you have to have is, of course, conch—wonderful, delicious conch!
Photos were taken by myself while out catching our dinner. Featured image is from my original watercolour painting “Conch Shell and Fish Pot” painted earlier this year while in Hope Town, Abaco, Bahamas.