Saturday, January 05, 2008

Conch Promises

You're looking at cracked conch. The image is a kept promise from the Unique Culinary Adventures podcast regarding our preparation of conch recently purchased from the Asian supermarket in the shopping center at the southwest corner of Route 40 and Rolling Road. As noted in the podcast, this was the first fresh queen or Caribbean conch (as opposed to whelk labeled as conch) that I'd encountered at retail in the Baltimore area for quite a while.

After trimming away the "foot," we pounded the remaining white meat with a mallet until tenderized and somewhat flattened. We then marinated it for two hours in lemon juice seasoned with salt and pepper. To assure crispness and a breaded coating that would ultimately stick, we prepared a batter using a tablespoon of baking powder to a cup of flour, adding enough beer---about a half cup--- to moisten. We dipped the conch into the batter and removed it. Although relatively little of the batter actually coated the cold conch, that which did expanded enough to cover it and turn golden brown after three minutes of deep-frying in a basket at 350 F. We then drained briefly on paper towels before serving with lemon wedges and hot sauce.

Conch salad, is really nothing more than a synonym for conch ceviche and is easy to prepare. Once again, remove the "foot" and pound the white meat. When tender, cut into a half-inch dice and marinate for a couple hours in a third of a cup of fresh lime juice and two teaspoons of salt for each pound of conch. Without draining, add fresh vegetables---tomatoes, bell peppers, celery, onion as desired--- along with some cilantro. Serve after seasoning to taste with salt and hot sauce.