Conch Salad

Key Westers and Caribbean islanders call ceviche made with fresh conch “conch salad.”  This simple seafood salad is available at several great spots in Key West, especially in Bahama Village, but the best I’ve ever had is actually in the Bahamas at the Queen Conch in Harbour Island.   The conch is caught fresh just a few yards offshore from this little thatched stand in Dunmore Town.  The fresh conch is pounded, chopped fine and doused with sour orange juice to “cook” while the friendly Bahamian ladies chop tomatoes, red onions and green peppers to mix in with an ungodly hot pepper sauce (be careful when they ask you if you like it hot!).  You can grab a Kalik at the store across the street and eat it right there looking out on the harbor.  Great stuff!  Here’s all you need to do.

With a mallet or rolling pin, pound about a pound of conch meat until it is about ½ inch thick.  Cut into ¼ inch strips and place in a large bowl.  Cover with sour orange juice (see note) and let stand. Meanwhile, finely chop about a third of a cup red onion, a red or green bell pepper (seeded and stemmed), a couple of tomatoes and a small bird pepper (seeded and stemmed).  Combine conch with the chopped vegetables, season with a hot pepper sauce to taste (remember the bird pepper is hot, too!) and let stand for 15 minutes or so. Have an ice cold beverage within reach, then serve!

Note:  If you can’t find sour oranges (also called Seville oranges, usually available at Caribbean or Latin markets), use half lime and half fresh orange juice.

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