It’s one of the most popular seafood items in the world, and chances are, you may have likely seen it on a restaurant menu here in South Florida. In fact, you may have seen it more than once on many South Florida restaurant menus. But if you’re not entirely sure what this seafood delicacy is nor have you ever had it, you are surely missing out. No worries though; if you wish to learn more about what conch is and how you can prepare it in your own home, then continue reading below.
What is Conch?
Pronounced “konk”, this seafood meat comes from an oversized sea snail and is native to the coasts of the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. Regardless of the way you cook it — whether it be raw or cooked — it will always come out delicious.
Conch is soft meat (when tenderized) and can be a little rubbery in texture. Its smell is much like crab and doesn’t possess a strong “sea” smell.
You can purchase conch just about anywhere and it will always be prepared cleaned. However, when you purchase a conch, you always want to be wary of what pieces you are choosing. You always want to make sure, whenever you buy conch, that the pieces are:
- – White, with some pink and orange tinge
- – NOT grey in color
- – NOT smelly with a “fishy” stench
How to Cook Conch
No matter how you intend to cook your conch, you’ll need to get it tender before you eat it. Once tenderized, you can cook it in any of the following ways:
When preparing cracked conch, instead of just simply tenderizing the meat, you’ll need to keep pounding it until it’s shredded. After, mix eggs together in a bowl and then dip the conch in there. Once covered in egg wash, roll the conch bits in flour until completely coated and fry them all on both sides until they’re golden brown.
This method sounds simple, but if you want the absolute best flavors ingrained into your conch, this will require a bit of effort on your part.
To cook steamed conch, first, you’ll need to heat some oil in a saute pan. Then add garlic and onions and saute until the onions are fragrant. Once fragrant add sweet peppers to the pan and continue sauteing for 2 minutes. Stir in some tomato paste, tomatoes, and thyme.
Once everything is stirred in, add the tender conch meat and the reserved liquid that it was packaged with. Add chile pepper and season to taste.
When everything is finally added, let it simmer until the conch is tender and the sauce is slightly thickened. It’s recommended that you serve this with rice.
Conch salad — or conch ceviche — requires quite a few ingredients, but is very easy to make.
For ingredients, you’ll need:
- – 1 pound conch meat
- – Juice of 1 small juicy orange
- – Juice of 1 juicy lime
- – Juice of ½ juicy lemon
- – 1 small onion, diced
- – 1 small tomato, diced
- – ½ red or green bell pepper, diced
- – ½ teaspoon minced habanero chile
- – 1 Caribbean bird chile (or Thai chile), seeded and minced
- – ½ teaspoon sea salt, or more to taste
When you gather all of your ingredients, take your conch and dice the meat into 1/4″ pieces. Once all the conch meat is diced, add in the citrus juices, onion, tomato, bell pepper, chiles, salt and toss to combine. Once everything is well mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap that’s placed close against the surface of the salad and chill for 1 hour before serving.
Probably one of the most popular conch dishes and one that you can easily prepare in your own home.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- – 1 quart of frying oil
- – ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- – 1 egg
- – ½ cup milk
- – Salt and pepper, to taste
- – Cayenne pepper, to taste
- – 1 cup chopped and tenderized conch meat
- – ½ medium white onion, chopped
- – ½ green pepper, chopped
- – 2 stalks celery, chopped
- – 2 cloves garlic, chopped
Once you gather all of your ingredients, pour your oil into a large pot or deep fryer and heat until the oil reaches 365°F. Mix the flour, egg, and milk in a large bowl. Once mixed, season it with salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Then add in the chopped conch meat, onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic until it’s all well-blended. Cook pieces of the conch in small bundles until they appear golden brown. Once they appear golden brown, place them on a paper towel and serve with whatever choice of dipping sauce you prefer (ketchup, mayonnaise, or any other dipping sauce).