How to Prepare and Cook Conch (Whelk)
Preparing the Conch Before Cooking
The conch is a type of sea snail which can be hard to find in local stores but is very inexpensive and can be very tasty. In order for your conch eating experience to be a good one, there are several things that one must keep in mind when preparing and cooking them.
When deciding to cook with conch you must take precaution when choosing the right ones. You can go out and collect your own or buy from the store. When collecting your own, make sure that they are not protected in your area as it would be illegal to obtain them. If you are buying from the store, make sure it is from a trusted source and that only adult conchs are harvested.
Getting The Meat
If your conchs are still in the shell, you will need to remove the meat from them. The easiest way to do this is to drill a small hole in the top of the shell to release the suction. This should make it fairly easy to just pull the meat out. Once you have your conch meat, make sure that it does not have a fishy smell, and are white/pink/orange in color not gray. If your conch smells and looks good then go ahead and wash them in several changes of clean water and then cut the digestive gland off. Removing the digestive gland is VERY IMPORTANT, as it contains toxins which can be harmful if eaten. You will also want to remove the operculum or hard foot(see photo) as well as any dark pieces. Once you have nice clean pieces of conch meat you will want to tenderize using a mallet. Flatten it out to desired thickness and then you are ready to cook.
Suggestions for Cooking Conch
Conch can be cooked in many different ways. Some suggestions would be to simmer it in a stew, steam them, use them in a ceviche or combine them in a batter and fry them up to make conch fritters(see recipe below). However you decide to cook your conch, it will generally take about 15-20 minutes until done.
- Heat the oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 365 degrees F.
- In a large bowl, mix flour egg, milk and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add the conch meat, celery, onion, green pepper, garlic, cheese and mix well.
- Add rounded tablespoons of batter to the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
- For added flavor dip in your favorite dipping sauce.
- 1 Quart Oil, For Frying
- 3/4 Cup All-purpose flour
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp Hot Sauce(ie. Franks or Texas Pete), or to taste
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 1 cup Conch Meat, chopped
- 1/2 Onion, chopped
- 1/2 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
- 2 Stalks Celery, chopped
- 2 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded