This recipe takes me back to my childhood days when my brother and I would go scavenging for conch (small and large black snails) in the rivers and ravines surrounding our small village (Guaracara). So to be clear, these are not the ocean conchs that’s turned into salads, soups and stews, especially in the Bahamas. It was like a treasure hunt for us, looking between roots, rocks and other debris in the water to find these. Good Times!
Luckily I across these in the frozen section of the Asian market we shop at, so I now have the opportunity to share this curry conch recipe with you.
1 lb conch (cleaned and cut into pieces)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
1 heaping tablespoon Caribbean Green Seasoning
1/2 medium onion
2 tablespoon veg oil
5 cloves garlic
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper (adjust to your liking)
3 cups water (boiling)
Important: In the Caribbean we wash all meats and sea food with lime or lemon juice before seasoning/cooking, but in this case DO NOT do so. Instead rub with a bit of plain flour and water, drain and rinse. The acid from the lime or lemon juice will cause the conch meat to go really tough and no matter how much you cook it, it will not go tender. Also, if doing this recipe according to a gluten free diet, pay attention to the curry powder you use as some manufacturers add flour to the mix and it will not meet your gluten free dietary needs.
Wash and season the conch (cut into 1 inch pieces) with the salt, black pepper, Caribbean Green Seasoning, Scotch Bonnet and a bit of grated ginger (optional – not mentioned in the ingredient list). Give it a good mix and allow it to marinate for a couple hours in the fridge.
Heat the oil on a medium flame in a deep sauce pan (one with a lid) and go in with the diced garlic and onion – turn the heat to as low as it would go and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Then add the curry powder (heat still on low). This step we’re toasting the curry powder to release the flavors of all the spices which make up the curry powder. Cook for about 4 minutes, so you won’t get a raw curry taste when the dish is done cooking. It will go grainy, them clump and go darker and your house will have that lovely aroma of curry! Add a bit more veg oil if you find it’s starting to burn.
It’s now time to raise the heat to high and go in with the seasoned conch and stir well. Place the lid on the pan and bring to a boil. As it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stir well and let it go for about 10 minutes. It will spring it’s own natural juices.
Now it’s time to really infuse the conch pieces with the curry, so turn up the heat to high and cook off all that natural juice which you see in the pan (lid off). It may take about 3-5 minutes. Go until you see the oil at the bottom of the pan, then go in with the boiling water and bring back to a boil. it’s important to use boiling water or again the conch will go tough.
Once it comes to a boil (we need patience now) reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, have the lid slightly ajar and let that go for about 1.5 to 2 hours. Yes it does take a while to go tender (this is VERY gamey). Remember to stir every 10 minutes or so.
After you’ve achieve the sort of tenderness you like, taste for salt, then turn up the heat to thicken the gravy. In most cases you’d find that traditionally curry conch is cooked dry (no gravy). The last 5 minutes of cooking is when you’d go in with the chopped tomato and scallions to give the dish a bit of color. You can even add a bit of chopped shado beni or cilantro if you like.
In my case I left it with a thick gravy as I was having this with steamed rice.
Looking back I can also remember mom would never want us to go unsupervised to the river and we would always get into problems with her. UNTIL we figured out how she knew when we went o the river and ravines – our legs would be dry and dirty from the muddy water. So we started taking coconut oil with us to use as lotion after playing in the river. BTW.. we never ate the conchs we’d catch and even today curry conch is not my thing.