We spent our spring break getaway week in St. Kitts in the Caribbean this year. Having been to most of the major Mexican vacation spots over the years, it was time to switch things up a bit and explore the Caribbean, our future cruising grounds for our Hatteras. Neither of us has been to St. Kitts so it seemed like a great choice for this year's getaway.
http://nevis1.com/conch-fritters-recipe.html) comes pretty close with its ingredients. However, I plan to experiment with making this in the pancake-style pictured above.
1 pound conch meat
1/2 large onion
2 stalks celery
1/2 red pepper
1/2 green pepper
Salt to taste
1/3 cup self rising cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Put conch through food grinder or food processor. Process with onion, celery, red and green pepper and mix with conch, adding salt and egg. Mix well. Mix together cornmeal, flour and baking powder. Add conch mixture. Mixture should be thick. Add buttermilk and hot sauce. Drop by heaping tablespoon into deep oil until light brown. Drain. Serve with mayonnaise and lime juice.
Now, conch can be a little bit hard to find at the Beach. However, I think the concept would work well with minced shrimp, clams, other local crustacean or mollusk. I am always looking for new and different appetizers and this one is definitely on my list to experiment with.
Fritters are not the only use for conch. It is frequently used in salads and chowders in the Keys and the Caribbean. It can also be used in entrée like the conch curry I had on the last night of our vacation in St. Kitts. We went to Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack (http://www.mrxshiggidyshack.com) which is located on "The Strip" in St. Kitts. (The Strip is just a short walk or cab ride from the Marriott in Frigate Bay and is also where you can find the local nightlife on the island. However, the nightlife on the island is pretty calm in comparison to other islands and places like Cancun, Mexico.)
The conch curry was served with a side of local vegetables. I will be the first to admit that cabbage does not often grace my table in a cooked form. However the cabbage was not bitter or flavorless but sweet and tender and the squash melted in your mouth with sweet and nutty flavor. Fresh and local. It is a way of life more out of necessity on the islands than out of intention but the result is the same: delicious. My chef instructor in one of my culinary foundation courses said more than once than vegetable sides are overlooked and deserve more attention on the plate. The Shiggidy Shack got my attention, for sure.
Earlier in the week, I had purchased my souvenir local cookbook, the St. Kitts International Women's Association Cookbook. As I was "reading" it on the plane ride back to the States, I was excited to find a recipe for Creole Conch Stew which looked very similar to the Conch Curry I had the night before.
It was simply conch, peppers, onions, olive oil, curry powder, garlic, hot pepper, tomato paste, thyme and parsley. The trick is now to figure out what type of curry blend they use locally!! Not necessarily and easy task with all the different types of curries out there, but I am up to the challenge...
Stay tuned for the next edition of my St. Kitts blog series on Caribbean spices....