Thursday, March 31, 2011
Destination Bahamas for Conch
Before my cruise down to the Bahamas, I did some cursory research on Chowhound for must-eat places in Nassau. I assumed Bahamian cuisine would be similar to Caribbean cuisine in general. But I did find that Nassau was famous for one thing--conch.
Photo credit: cheesy42 on Flickr
I had always known conch in its shell form. For a long time, it didn't even occur to me that a sea creature lived in the shell or had to form it somehow. I did find this video on how to shell and clean a conch online. It also taught me that konk is the proper pronunciation.
According to Chowhound posters, the Arawak Cay Fish Fry is the place to go for local seafood. The town of Nassau is not huge, and the Fish Fry is within walking distance along the Northern beaches. I had a hard time figuring out what Fish Fry actually was, so I'm going to present it as clearly as I can here. The Fish Fry is a row of restaurants, all serving basically the same foods, emphasizing the conch and other local critters. The particular restaurant I went to was Twin Brothers. Complicating it even more, there are two Twin Brothers restaurants.
Conch fritters are the most popular form of conch dishes. Think Japanese takoyaki, but with firmer pieces of conch meat replacing the chewier squid. The fritters were cheap, about $2.50 for six pieces. Bahamian dollar is pegged at one-to-one with USD and most places take USD. Two Brothers fries a great fritter, fluffy without being dense, and has the most kick-ass spicy remoulade.
I also tried the conch salad. Think ceviche. Very simple and clean. Just conch, tomatoes, onions, jalepeños and lime. It allowed me to get a good idea of what conch tastes like at its most primal. A good conch can be sweet, not unlike abalone.
Additionally, I tried the cracked conch. It was large pieces of deep fried and battered conch somewhat akin to fried fish in a fish and chips platter. While the waitress told me beforehand that the cracked conch was significantly different from the fritters, one dish of deep fried conch is more than enough. Twin Brothers also had delicious frozen mango daquiries.
So now you know, when going to the Bahamas, eat the conch, take the shell as a souvenir.