Ordering a plate of steamed conch (sometimes referred to as steam conch) for the first time can give you quite a surprise.
Unlike many countries, in the Bahamian 'steamed' refers to a stew-like, almost Mediterranean-style dish, made with tomatoes, onions, lemon, thyme and quite often, a generous amount of hot pepper.
Classic steamed conch is served with coleslaw and white rice. For many, these two simple sides provide the perfect match. The cooling coleslaw acts to refresh the palate in between bites of the quite spicy conch. The white rice soaking up the delicious, rich caribbean sauce.
Although the purist might like to stick with white rice and coleslaw, steamed conch goes well with all different types of side dish.
You might like to try this dish served-up with a side of dumplings, 'rice n peas', or maybe 'grits n peas' with plantains. Some Bahamians even like to enjoy a side of macaroni cheese with their steamed conch.
The recipe for steamed conch varies a lot, but is usually pretty simple. The main thing to make a great steamed conch is to get a good fresh shell fish in the first place.
As you can imagine, there a lots of different steamed conch recipes - restaurants and families will all have their own 'secrets' to the perfect dish, but here is a recipe I found to be very good.
Step 1 - Tenderize your conch
Fresh conch needs to be tenderized. This is done by pounding it (can use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin)
Step 2 - Boil the conch for 10 minutes
This can be done in a small pot in 2 cups of water. No salt is needed. Retain the water after boiling the conch to use for the sauce.
Step 3 - Create the sauce
Start off by sautéing the onions with the conch until they get a little color, then add the hot pepper, tomatoes, bell pepper, celery, carrot and thyme.
Add a little water and simmer these ingredients together gently until they reduce into a thick sauce
Step 4 - Add the conch to the sauce and simmer a little longer - 5-10 minutes will do just fine. At the same time, season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Step 5 - Enjoy!
Steam Conch - a beautiful dish of Steam Conch, with delicious rich tomato sauce, Mediterranean flavors and a decent hit of Chilli. Served with coleslaw and rice.
Don't miss out - with all the great things to see and do in the Bahamas - a good guide book can be really useful.
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