Conch time is coming baby… about a month away. For all you newbie’s here is a quick guide on how to clean conch the local way, then eat the little bastards. Actually catching them is easy, you just head out into the ocean and grab them. Cleaning them though… well… Here ya go:
1.) Using a hooked or clawed hammer, make a hole in the shell of the conch, in the space between the 3rd and 4th spiral from the center, on the side about two or three points up from the flare. You can also take two shells and blast them together, using the sharp point of one to make the hole in the other. My father is a big fan of “unspoiled” conch shells, so for him and the other shell lovers out there you can also freeze the conch, then dip it in warm water and slide the conch out… or so they say.
2.) Insert a knife into the hole. If you feel a hard muscle you are in the right place. Cut it. If you feel soft stuff, go back to the beginning and try again.
3.) Holding onto the claw (or foot), pull the whole friggin conch out of shell. I hate to say this, but a whole conch is kind of like a surprisingly big, greasy booger. It will keep coming and coming and coming. If it doesn’t slide out then you didn’t cut the muscle through.
4.) Locate the head (usually the black and yellow spotted area, with two nasty alien-like googley eye-stalk things) and cut the damn thing off. Feed it to the cat, if you have one.
5.) Holding it by the claw, use the knife to cut off the mantle (orange spotted “skirt” part) and attached long stringy slimy part. In the Bahamas locals often leave the mantle on for color in conch salad. It tastes pretty good.
Anyways, rinse the whole mess in seawater. Conch is slimy.
6.) Locate the intestine (dark vein on the bottom of the white muscle now exposed) and cut it out with the knife.
7.) Slice through the dark tough skin on the white muscle from the bottom to the claw with the knife.
8.) Using whatever method works for you, remove all of the “skin” to expose the edible white muscle. It may be skinned by putting a dull table knife under it to pry off; some people pull it off with their teeth; others put thumbs under it and pull it with hands; others peel it with a knife. Rinse well.
9.) Cut off the claw, chop up what’s left.
10.) Prepare it however you like. For Marinated Conch: add some onion, lime juice and Tabasco, then eat the hell out of it.