Sunday, February 06, 2005
We stopped off on the Turks and Caicos Island of Providenciales for a couple of days. The island is very flat, with little vegetation, and not exactly picturesque. However, in certain lighting it can be eerily beautiful. I recommend facing the ocean whenever possible, it is the most gorgeous color you can imagine. One night we had dinner at a cute, though not inexpensive restaurant called "Hole in the Wall" It was a far cry from it's namesake and we all enjoyed the local Bahamian food. I had BBQ ribs which were delicious and sitting on their beautifully lit deck was a pleasure. However, we didn't fair so well another night, with a horrible meal in a "Chinese" restaurant (also expensive, and no one ate a thing.) We had a day off though and rented a jeep to explore the island. We found a perfect little beach shack called Boogaloos, specializing in conch. Conch, a mollusk, is a Bahamian seafood staple and prepared in many ways all over the islands. You can find it fried ( also called "cracked"), in chowders, fritters, ceviche, curries and more. The fritters at this place were amazing, not like most and full of doughy starch. The curry was out of this world; perfectly spiced with lots of fresh veggies and pieces of conch. We watched as two men walked out to sea where the conch were kept, live, in an underwater farm. They would bring them back to the back of the shack and remove them from the shell right there. You have to hit the shell in exactly the right spot to remove the connective membrane, and then the conch is pulled right out. The conch meat is also very tough and must be tenderized, usually by hammering it with a meat pounder, or any heavy blunt object. I made conch fritters on the boat one afternoon for lunch, and in the process instilled some healthy fear in to the crew and guests with my hammering.
1 lb conch
1 small yellow onion, cut in to small dice
1 jalepeño, seeded and cut in to small dice
1 bunch of scallions, chopped
1 c panko or fresh breadcrumbs
1 T flour
1 T Dijon
1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 c beer
zest and juice of one lemon
3 dashes Worchestshire sauce
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
Canola, vegetable, or peanut oil to fry
Pound conch with meat pounder or rolling pin until 1/4' thick. Put in food processor and pulse only until roughly chopped, or chop by hand. Mix conch meat with remaining ingredients in large bowl. Heat a wide pot with about two inches of oil in it to around 375 degrees Fahrenheit . Drop golf ball sized mounds of batter into oil and cook, 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Have plate ready, lined with paper towels, and place fritter on towels when done to absorb excess oil.
Serve with tartar sauce, cocktail sauce or aioli.