Bahamian Conch Salad

October 4, 2021
Zesty, a little spicy, and made with soft and delicately flavored white conch meat, Bahamian conch salad is a must-try. Crunchy peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and citrus juices work together to create a refreshing dish, perfect for a lighter bite on a warm afternoon. It's like ceviche with conch.

  
A large bowl of conch salad and a small white serving bowl filled with salad



This is one of my favorite ingredients to use! The years I spent living at home, freshly caught conch meat was always easy to get hold of from a roadside seller, so cooking with it always brings back fond memories of that time. It’s so popular in the Bahamas that it even features on the coat of arms!

Conch is delicately flavored, similar to crab meat, and if you prepare it correctly, it’s tender and soft. Perfect when paired with colorful, crunchy veggies in a tropical conch salad.

Watching experts prepare a conch salad is a feast for the eyes and something I recommend if you’re ever in the Bahamas! You’ll see that chefs at the seafood stalls by the harbor are genuine artists, chopping peppers, garlic, cucumber, limes, onion, and of course tasty queen conch meat in a whirlwind of flashing knives so fast that it seems impossible.

Making tropical conch salad at home is the perfect way to transport yourself to the harborside.

 
One of the things I love about it is that even if you’re not an expert chef, it’s quick and easy to prepare. I don’t always have the most time for food prep with a full-time job and a toddler to look after, so meals that don’t keep me in the kitchen for too long are always a winner!

Not only is this conch salad recipe packed full of mouthwatering flavors, but it’s also a great healthy option for you and your family. I love serving it as an appetizer when we have guests or as a light meal on a hot summer's day.

If you’re looking for more conch recipes, why not try this Jamaican steam conch with shrimp and okra or a bold and flavorful curry conch.

What is conch?


Conch is a type of giant sea snail that’s indigenous to the seas around the Bahamas. All of the conch meat is edible, and it’s often cooked into fritters, burgers, chowders, and of course, salad.

In Bahamian culture, the whole conch is used. The meat is used in cooking, of course, and the conch shells are sometimes transformed into a horn by cutting a hole in the top of them.

Conch meat can be a little rubbery (it has a chewy texture), which is why it’s essential to prepare it correctly by tenderizing it before cooking. It can be eaten either raw or cooked. In this tropical conch salad, we eat the conch raw.

You can buy conch meat frozen and either in or out of the shell. If you can find it, it’s a good idea to buy it out of the shell as removing it can be a tricky job!

For this recipe, you need fresh conch rather than frozen.

  
Bird's eye view of a bowl of conch salad with orange on the side


What is a Bahamian conch salad?


Bahamian conch salad is a vibrant and crunchy salad made using raw pound conch meat. The flavor is made up of a mixture of onions, bell peppers, orange juice, lime juice, and spicy peppers giving it a fresh, zesty, and slightly spicy taste.

The dish is a Bahamian staple, so if you want to know what it’s like to eat like a local, it’s the perfect place to start.

Conch meat is a good source of protein, meaning that although this tropical conch salad feels like a light bite, it will give you all the fuel you need.

Ingredients

  
The ingredients needed to create a Bahamian conch salad

Raw conch meat - tenderized and chopped into bite-sized pieces
Garlic - peeled and minced.
Cucumber - diced.
Roma tomatoes - Make sure that you use ripe tomatoes. We need the juice
Fresh orange juice.
Fresh lime juice.
Fresh lemon juice.

Onion - you can use sweet onion or white onion
Scotch bonnet pepper - chopped. - or any other hot pepper like goat pepper, habanero pepper, or even jalapeno pepper that will give you that spicy flavor. Or if you have a mixed crowd for heat, have some pepper sauce on the side to give the option for additional heat.
Bell/green peppers - you can use green bell pepper or orange or even red.
Salt and black pepper.
Cilantro - chopped.
 

Preparation


Begin by preparing the conch. First, soak it in water and lemon juice for about 10 minutes.

While the conch is soaking, you can chop up your garlic, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and bell pepper. I like using a dicer to do this because it’s much easier than using a knife! The dicer also creates equal-sized pieces, which is an integral part of the texture of tropical conch salad.

Once it’s finished soaking, wash it thoroughly to remove any debris, slime, or black pieces.

Cover the conch meat with plastic wrap on a large, clean work surface and use a meat tenderizer to pound it so that it becomes thin. I like this meat mallet because it’s lightweight, and it has both a textured and a smooth side to tenderize the meat and smooth it out as needed.

Once you’ve tenderized the conch, using a sharp knife, chop it into bite-sized pieces. Try to get the pieces as uniform as possible, as uniform pieces will combine better with the veggies.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the onions, lime juice, orange juice, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion, cucumber, and the conch meat. It’s essential that you use a nonreactive mixing bowl so that the taste of your salad isn’t affected.

  
Vegetables cubed to combine for conch salad


Also, try to get juicy limes, a juicy orange, and that your tomatoes also are tender and would produce some liquid. You want to get as much citrus juice so that you can help to continue to tenderize the meat.

Mix everything until combined, and add salt and black pepper to taste.

Add your chopped scotch bonnet pepper and cilantro, and then cover the bowl and let it sit for at least 10 minutes in the refrigerator. The longer you leave it to sit, the more the flavors will come out, and the more tender the conch.

Serve either as a main meal, an appetizer, or a side salad and enjoy!
 
Added citrus juices and conch with vegetables

What to serve with conch salad


Try serving your Bahamian conch salad as a main meal or a starter for a feast, featuring Bahamian conch fritters or a fragrant lobster curry.

If you’re looking for a specialty Bahamian drink to have with your salad, you can’t go wrong with a tasty gully wash also known as "sky juice", made with coconut water, gin, and condensed milk.

Substitutions


Conch:
Bahamian conch salad is best made with conch, of course, but it can be challenging to get hold of sometimes. If you can’t find any, try making the salad with shrimp, lionfish, or crab meat.

Vegetables: The important thing about the veggies is that they are crunchy and fresh tasting, so bear this in mind if you decide to substitute any of the vegetables.

Fruits: If you want a more tropical version, try adding some chopped-up pineapples or mangoes to the mix. You can also add some avocadoes at the end.                                                               

Storing


Bahamian conch salad can be better the next day because the flavor has more time to blend, and the conch will tenderize more. Do not keep it in the fridge for longer than two days, though.

The salad is served cold, so you don’t need to warm it or reheat it when you serve it.

So are you ready to dive into this beautiful conch salad?

Before you go check out some of my favorite seafood recipes:

Curry crab and dumplings
Baked tilapia in foil
Escovitch fish
Bahamian conch salad, Conch ceviche
Seafood
Caribbean
Yield: 6
Author: Renz @ HomeMadeZagat
Bahamian Conch Salad

Bahamian Conch Salad

Prep time: 15 Mininactive time: 10 MinTotal time: 25 Min
Zesty, a little spicy, and made with soft and delicately flavored white conch meat, Bahamian conch salad is a must-try. Fresh conch with crunchy peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and citrus juices work together to create a refreshing dish.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Soak conch in water and lemon juice for about 10 minutes
  2. Wash, and remove any debris, slime, or black pieces
  3. On a good surface, cover meat with plastic wrap, using a meat tenderizer, pound conch thinly
  4. Chop into bite-sized pieces. 
  5. In a large non-reactive mixing bowl, add onions, lime juice, orange juice, bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, cucumber, conch meat
  6. Mix till combined, add salt and black pepper to taste
  7. Add hot pepper and cilantro.
  8. Cover the bowl and let sit for 10 minutes in the refrigerator.
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Renz HomeMadeZagat
Renz HomeMadeZagat

Hi guys, I’m Renz. I am the chief cook and bottle washer here at HomeMadeZagat. I am here sharing Caribbean recipes that I grew up eating and new ones I’ve fallen in love with over the years. I just want to showcase the amazing diversity of Caribbean food and that everyone can recreate these dishes.

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