How About Stewed Conch ?

15 Dec

The word Bahamas is attributed to the Spanish “baja mar,” or under the sea. Accordingly, seafood was a prominent factor in this meal. Amazing we got through eleven meals before cooking fresh treats from the ocean. And by all accounts, the seafood that defines Bahamian cuisine is the conch — pronounced conk. To find this and other ingredients such as sour orange, I biked up to south Williamsburg and to the inimitable Food Bazaar. Aside from bird peppers and fresh guava, I found everything I needed, and even then I found acceptable substitutes in scotch bonnet peppers and frozen guava paste. I don’t think I managed to get as much meat as I should have, the one pound of crawfish yielded at most two ounces of crawfish tails, and given that the recipe calls for two tails, I’m pretty sure that the crawfish they get in the Bahamas are much bigger. Anyway, it was tasty and tangy and spicy and a great start into the meal.

For a country so small, what a doozy it turned out to be. As it turns out, Brussels is nothing like Nassau, and ingredients that are commonplace in the latter are well nigh impossible to find in the former. After much careful substitution, reading and strategising, I bring you my unique twist on a classic Bahamian dish: deep-fried conch. Queen conch is classified, in many parts of the Caribbean, as an endangered species. You’re not allowed to catch it anywhere in the United States, and its export is prohibited in the Cayman islands and quite a few other places. This is probably one of the reasons that I was unable to find conch anywhere in Brussels, much to my disappointment. On the other hand, I did manage to find whelks, a fellow marine gastropod (that’s sea snail to you and me). Whelks used to be fairly commonly eaten in the UK, Belgium, and France, although they’ve fallen out of favour in recent decades.

I’d certainly never eaten them, and wouldn’t have thought to give them a try otherwise. Having heard how similar they are to conch (although apparently slightly fishier, tougher and less sweet), I felt compelled to make turn Bahamian cracked conch into cracked whelk instead. The batter is light, crispy and flavourful. But whelks are definitely an acquired taste – it smells really strongly of fish, and tastes briny. It is also quite chewy, so you really need to pound it with that mallet. It actually tastes like a fishier version of deep-fried oysters, which can be very good indeed. If I had to make it again, I think I’d make it with calamari or another slightly subtler seafood. A conch can live up to 25 years ,different from human,others animal love conch also like stingrays ,but the question is many people ask how to get a conch out of its shell? All u need is a hatchet to put a hole at the top of the shell,an u take a knife insets it in the hole,an u push the conch out,an then u see the beauty of the conch,nice an tender meat,an one amazing fact is that a conch don’t have no bone,its all muscle an a delicacy food.


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