Monday, December 27, 2010

Bahamian Conch Salad

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child


Chris and I had a lovely, lovely, lovey holiday in the Bahamas.  We stayed at a terrific private island resort on South Andros Island (Tiamo), that has miles of pristine beaches, the clearest water I've ever seen, and a Michelin-rated chef. Score!

South Andros is well- known for bonefish fishing, blue-hole diving and other deep-sea excursions and we got to enjoy the freshly caught fish from those trips, daily. One day, one of the other guests (there were only 7 other guests there besides us) caught an enormous kingfish -- guess what we had for dinner? It was delicious. Another day, a huge wahoo was brought in and was turned into an amazing sashimi appetizer. You get the picture. Chris and I were sitting pretty -- good food, lots of sunshine...paradise! It's sad that we're now back in the NYC area and dealing with over 2 feet of snow.  (Why did we come home?)

One day, we took a day trip over to a sister island, Mangrove Cay, for lunch. A really nice woman working at Tiamo lived over there and recommended we try her sister's place for lunch so we could experience the famous Bahamian Conch Salad. So, we took a short boat ride over to Mangrove Cay and then a taxi drive over to Greene's One Stop Conch Spot, which was right on the water.  We walked over to the pier and there were conch shells as far as the eye could see, as well as several people cleaning and prepping the conch for our meal. 



Here's the owner of the place showing us how to clean a conch:


Chris and I sat at the counter while a young woman (the owner's daughter) made our salads. I watched as she took the freshly killed and cleaned, raw conch and chopped into a medium dice, then she did the same with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and a bit of hot red pepper.  She put each serving into a huge mound and then squeezed the juice of no fewer than 2 limes, 1 lemon, and 1 orange over them, before scooping into a bowl and placing the huge salad in front of us.  It was so fresh and citrusy -- like a lovely Bahamian ceviche.  The conch tasted sweet and salty, with a texture similar to calamari. It wasn't rubbery or overly chewy, though. It was like the Bahamas in a bowl.


We also had conch fritters and "crack conch" which was basically fried conch with french fries.  The salad was my favorite, and I think Chris liked the fritters the best (they were served with a fruity, mayo-like sauce).  A funny aside: Apparently, conch is great for increasing one's virility, and before we sat down to eat, our taxi driver whispered to Chris that he should really enjoy his meal as it's really meant for him and not me...

It was a terrific, memorable meal and a special day... and even with exquisite, fresh food coming out daily from Tiamo's extremely talented chef, this simple dish made by sweet, local folks was my favorite.

Yum and yum.
xoxox


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