Believing in trying everything at least once, my most recent crew and I said the same about taking a stab at conch while cruising the Abacos. Having tried conch fritters and conch chowder, we had yet to hunt and gather conch ourselves. After nearly five days into our journey, the time to make this first happen was ticking away. On our last anchorage and snorkel lunch (seen left), we all jumped off, minus the Captain, with snorkel gear and booties to explore the rocky cay for hidden treasures, including some conch worthy of a sacrifice.
Coming aboard the stern with three large conch shells, our ultimate “concher” challenged the other crew members to figure out the rest (seen at the finale of this post). With hundreds of conch shells lining the harbors and rocky cays, we had all noticed a small slit in the empty conch shells. It led us to believe that that slit technique was the chosen way to shell a conch. Despite having a small set of tools, including a screwdriver, hammer, mallet, and more, we were not successful in making a seamless slit like those seen on the shoreline. Instead with quite a Herculean effort, our handyman armed with a hammer and screwdriver went into a gladiator match with the conch (pictured right).
After much mess, flying shell, near misses with the screwdriver, and nervous observers, the hole was made. Unlike the small slits, our hole was far less attractive. No one was to save the shell as a memento. Despite the size of the hole, the conch was not yet letting go. So, the handyman needed to get the pliers. With a little pull, the large conch muscle now on a cutting board slipped and slid, but back to the galley it went with the “concher” and her sous chef.
After a light saute in garlic and olive oil, the conch served in small chunks was served on the aft-deck table. Not all pounced on the opportunity with gusto as if it were pizza freshly out of the oven. Instead, all were a little hesitant taking a small piece to start. While in chunks, the verdict was that the conch was really chewy. I would compare it to overcooked octopus. So the sous chef and handyman decided to thinly slice the conch almost paper thin. That was indeed the ticket. Thinly sliced, the conch was a little sweet almost like a scallop with a good light taste of garlic, oil, salt, and peppers.
Unlike my previous post on must sees and my repeat list, I would say that this experience can be crossed off my to do list. I have now experienced conch first hand in the Abacos. I’ll leave the conch experts to preparing my next order of conch fritters or conch chowder.
Have you experienced conch? Have you shelled a conch and cooked it?
Here’s to more good times and good stories.