Conch is a large Caribbean mollusk and unofficial national dish of the Bahamas. It cannot be harvested in the United States but is widely available frozen. Conch flesh is bright white and very firm; one big piece of muscle. The clear, clean waters of the Caribbean make conch a contamination-free seafood.
Conch is a good source of many minerals and vitamins. Potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper and selenium are all abundant in conch. Each serving has plenty of vitamins B12 and E, folate and choline. Each cup of conch supplies 33.4 grams of complete protein with little fat or carbohydrates. All of this makes conch an excellent addition to any whole food healthy diet.
Before making conch salad or other conch recipes, it is best to pound the conch well with the back of a knife or a meat mallet. This will break up the muscle fibers and make the conch more tender. Cutting the conch into small pieces also helps to make it less chewy.
About this conch salad recipe
It is hard to find a restaurant in the Bahamas that does not have its own version of conch salad on the menu. This is island food: fresh, tart and a little spicy to fortify against the heat and humidity. Living in Florida, I had to take a few liberties with the ingredients while staying true to the spirit of the dish.
Only frozen conch is available in my area but it works as well as fresh. I like to use cilantro along with the traditional parsley. My conch salad recipe uses jalapeno chile pepper but leaves out the usual dried red chiles for less heat on the tongue. Red instead of green bell pepper adds a touch of sweetness. And I add some pineapple and mango for additional tropical flavor not found in most Bahamian conch salad recipes.
The vegetables and fruits in this recipe add a lot of nutrition. Allium vegetables like red onion are well-documented anti-inflammatory foods. Peppers supply vitamin A and citrus is high in vitamin C. Pineapple and mango have beneficial enzymes and other healthy compounds. For more health benefits of pineapples, click here.
Conch salad is really a ceviche. The recipe relies on the acids in the citrus juices and tomato to cook the conch. The finished salad can be chilled in the refrigerator for an hour or two for fully “cooked” conch or it can be eaten fresh for a fresher, more raw flavor. In the Bahamas, conch salad is often street food, made while you watch from live conch and immediately handed to you to enjoy.
3/4-1 pound fresh or frozen whole conch, pounded and 1/4″ diced 3/4 cup tomato, 1/2″ diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, 1/4″ diced 1/2 cup cucumber, 1/4″ diced
1/4 cup red onion, 1/4″ diced 3/4 cup pineapple, 1/2″ diced
1 medium jalapeno chile, 1/4″ diced, or to taste 1/2 cup mango, 1/2″ diced
Juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon 1/4 cup parsley, coarse chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, coarse chopped sea salt to taste
1. Pound the conch well with a tenderizing mallet or the back edge of a large knife to break up the protein fibers.
2. Chop all of the ingredients and place everything except the salt and jalapeno into a mixing bowl.
3. Add the salt and jalapeno a little at a time, always mixing well, until the flavors agree with you. If you chill the conch salad to allow the conch to cook, you might need to add more salt and jalapeno before serving.