Before living in South Florida, I had only tasted conch while on vacation to the Caribbean or on a cruise. Living in South Florida though, means that I get to enjoy a plethora of conch dishes fresh from those gorgeous, aquamarine waters between us and the Bahamas.
Conch fritters … conch ceviche … cracked conch … conch chowder … grilled conch – seriously, we love our conch here. For those that have never tasted conch before, it is a gorgeous white meat that is similar in texture to octopus or calamari (but firmer) and when fresh, it tastes like the ocean in a really pure, good way! You can use it like clams or octopus or calamari but it does need to be tenderized.
As I was prepping the post for South Florida grilling, I was buying fish at Old Dixie Seafood in Boca Raton – one of my favorite local fishmongers. They always have excellent quality fish and shrimp and when I have a craving for gator, well they carry that too. I was delighted to see the conch there on this visit and couldn’t resist sharing my love with all of you!
As I said before, conch does need to be tenderized and the lime and lemon juice marinade in the ceviche reduces it to pillowy mouthfuls of heaven. The recommended marinade time is 2 hours but I say that overnight is best – it will be even better! Conch is high in protein and considered an aphrodisiac so it makes a great special occasion dish.
Scotch bonnet peppers are commonly used in ceviche of all kinds but it does make it super spicy. You can control the heat by how much of the pepper you are using and a great technique to get the Scotch Bonnet flavor is just to deseed the pepper and leave it in the marinade. Another idea for a quick cheat is to use the Huy Fong chili garlic sauce to bump up my heat or make two batches, one for the less adventurous.
For those of you who are in South Florida, one of my favorite places to get conch out is Calypso Restaurant & Raw Bar in Pompano Beach – their Cracked Conch is to die for! Clean Plate Charlie also just did an article on places to get awesome conch in Delray Beach.
Serve the conch in little martini glasses as I did for a party or in a big bowl with crackers. Plain ole saltine crackers make for great conch ceviche delivery by the way!
Conch Ceviche Recipe
- 1 pound of fresh Bahamian conch (or flash frozen) and chop into small, even pieces
- 3 lemons, juiced
- 3 limes, juiced
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and grated
- 4 green onions (white and light green parts chopped)
- 1/2 pint of grape tomatoes quartered
- 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper, seeded and minced (optional or any other type of pepper)
- good handful cilantro, leaves chopped
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Add conch and lemon and lime juice to a container for minimum of 30 minutes and allow to marinate. Add all other ingredients and mix well. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours but overnight is recommended. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving. Serve alone with spoons, with crackers or with plantain chips.