Conch Fritters; just about the only manner I’ve ever had Conch for most of my life thus far. I’m not from The Islands and I was never exposed to the other ways conch are frequently enjoyed. All I had was fried balls of conch fritters found on random tropical-inspired menus. It was pretty boring and I never got to experience conch’s flavor and texture.
Cooking conchs so its tender is no easy task. This recipe takes prepared conch meat, which is easily found at Asian markets. Braising it for an hour in a firey and flavorful West Indies inspired curry makes the conchs sweet and succulent. And who doesn’t like the combination of white wine, curry, hot peppers, and coconut milk? This is an awesome dish to enjoy with rice, of course, and an Arctic cold beer on a blazing hot summer day.
My interest in conchs heightened after I had scungeli for the first time at Tomasso’s Restaurant in Brooklyn. Thick slices of large snails (whelks to be exact), braised in a spicy tomato based sauce. Conchs and scungeli are not the same animal, but they are pretty darn close. Conchs are large, herbivore snails found in tropical waters and whelks are large, carnivore snails found in colder waters.
The conch has a crisp yet spongy texture and its taste similar to a sweet, non-briny clam. Texture-wise, conchs are similar to a Trumpet King Mushroom. Overall, the conchs definitely inhabit a mild flavor and not as briny and bold as the clam. Another good reason why curry goes well with conch, welcome to more FlavorTown.
Cooking live conchs in its shell, properly, is not easy. It is incredibly easy to overcook the conch into a rubber ball, but who wants that. For that reason, I like to purchase conch meat already de-shelled and prepared. Cheating? Yeah, but don’t let anyone know. Pre-cooked and prepared conch is found in your local Asian or Ethnic grocery store.
Recipe for East Indian style Curry Conch
- 1/4 lb of prepared Conch meat, sliced (buy at Asian grocery store)
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 1/4 cup of coconut milk
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Chives, minced
- 1 hot pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite yellow curry powder
- Olive oil
Get the base of the curry going by sauteing onions, garlic, chives, and hot pepper in olive oil and butter, over medium-low heat. Proceed by sweating the aromatic vegetables for five minutes, or until it starts to soften. Add the white wine and have it reduce into the vegetables. This will take five to 10 minutes.
Start getting your tastebuds primed up. When the white wine has reduce and all put evaporated, add your curry and stir it around into the vegetables. Tossing in your sliced conch meat and give the pan a good shaking. You want to make sure the curry powder touches every nook and cranny. Pour in the coconut milk, place a lid on the saute pan, and walk away. Have the conch braise with the spicy curry and sweet coconut milk base for at least thirty minutes.
To serve, preferably outdoors on a sunny day with plenty of beer, place the curry conch on top of a scoop of white rice and a sprinkle of chives. Dig in!