No, there’s no lettuce involved. Here in the Caribbean, conch salad is a ceviche-type dish, made with raw conch, citrus juices and veggies (which include some traditional salad ingredients, such as onions, tomatoes and sweet peppers).
At Da Conch Shack on Provo, in the Turks and Caicos Islands, they’ve been serving a conch-heavy menu for years, and on a recent visit they let me in on the secret to the success of their marquee item.
It all starts, of course, with the conch, and the Shack keeps more than 1,500 of the mollusks in an ocean pen mere steps from the restaurant, so you know they’re fresh. In less than two minutes the conch goes from the sea to the kitchen, where it is “knocked” (a hole is pierced in the shell and the flesh removed), cleaned, and tenderized with a mallet. The chef then adds diced green peppers, tomatoes and onions; tosses it all together with lime juice, salt and pepper; and voila, the freshest, most flavorful conch salad this side of Paradise. Wash it down with a cup of bartender Rayon’s famous rum punch and you’re good to go (or, more likely, to stay at a table on the sand) for the rest of the afternoon.
Not traveling to the Turks? Here are some Bahamian conch salad spots I recommend:
Under the western bridge between Nassau and Paradise Island is a string of fish stalls. Locals have their loyalties to particular vendors, but visitors can’t go wrong at any of them.
Spike your conch salad at this rustic beachfront resto in Freeport, Grand Bahama, with the fiery homemade goat pepper sauce – if you dare.
Ruby-red locally grown tomatoes and orange juice make the conch salad at this Stocking Island, Exumas beach bar something to talk about.