Sometimes the simplest foods are the BEST foods. One of my oldest and dearest friends Dorald made this salad for me many years ago on his first visit to the island. His Bahamian ancestry taught him the divine combination of these OH, SO SIMPLE flavors. And he passed this love on to me again on his most recent trip over the Christmas holidays. Maybe its the memories of our incessant laughter whenever we make time to see each other, or just the love and care that my friend shared in putting this recipe together, but this dish is an easy mix up of full-on oceanic flavor and bright citrus overtones. Deliciousness!
One of the greatest joys in the kitchen isn’t only the love of the final outcome, but like life, it is the TRY. The figuring out. The coming together. There are brilliant moments when in the process of creating a recipe my heart sings, “Come on! This is just beautiful!!” The picture below was just that moment. It looked like vegetable confetti, a literal rainbow in a bowl! How can this not taste incredible!
This dish is usually made with raw conch, but because of the possibility of food-borne illnesses, I would highly recommend especially for those of you who are unable to get the freshest raw conch that you simply use the cooking technique I used in the Conch in Butter Sauce recipe. I have had it both ways, and while I ADORE the taste of the raw fresh conch, I also enjoy and savor it being made this way.
Finally, this really is a “To Taste” recipe. It will require some thinking, some tasting, some modifying, to your individual taste. You may enjoy it more spicy, you may prefer it more mild. You may prefer the conch more tender, you prefer it more “to the tooth”. That is also part of the lessons from the kitchen, tapping into your OWN food likes and dislikes, and the joys (and rewards) of experimentation! The kitchen and persistence always rewards curiosity!
3 Conch Steaks
1/4 of a medium Red Onion
1 Small Tomato
2 Seasoning Peppers
1 Stalk Culantro/1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
Salt and Pepper To Taste
3 Green Onions
1/2 Green or Red (or Combo) Bell Pepper
1 Habanero Pepper
1 Lime Juiced and Zested
1/2 Lemon Juiced
1 Tablespoon of the reserved Conch Water
About 5-6 (Seven just in case) hours before you want to actually serve this dish, cook the conch according to the directions in the Conch in Butter Sauce recipe.
I use the low and slow approach of a slow cooker, but you can also simply use a pressure cooker and cook it according to the specifications of your individual cooker to dramatically shorten the cooking time. The cooking time in the Conch in Butter Sauce recipe is extensive, because that recipe demands a very tender conch. But in order to mimic the taste of the fresh conch, a shorter cooking time with just a little bit of “bite” is what I prefer. But again, it is to your taste!
After the conch is done to your desired tenderness, reserve just a bit of the conch cooking water.
Dunk the conch in ice water to cool it down immediately. Once it is cooled, slice it into tiny pieces as shown above and set aside.
Finely dice the red and green onions, tomato, green and/or red bell peppers, and seasoning peppers.
Warning: The Habanero is a very hot pepper. Be VERY careful when working with this pepper and use gloves! The last thing you want is to touch this pepper then get it on any part of your face. Remove and discard the gloves also carefully. If you don’t want the risk (and miss out on the flavor) of this pepper you can substitute crushed red pepper. You can also leave out this pepper if you are not a fan of “heat”.
Seed and dice the habanero, culantro/cilantro, and add to the onion mixture.
Zest and juice one lime, then add both the zest and the juice to your mixture.
Add the lemon juice, a tablespoon of the reserved conch water (this will add more intense conch flavor), and salt and pepper to taste.
Taste the mixture at this point to check for proper balance. If you want more lime or citrus feel free to add it! This again is a simple dish to your taste. Also, if you can’t find conch in your area, you could dice some cooked shrimps and try it out with this simple citrus dressing. It won’t be as remarkable, but it could do in a pinch!
Serve cold immediately and enjoy!