Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Tastes of the Caribbean - Part 3

Seafood plays a vital role in Caribbean cooking, with a huge variety of amazing fish and shellfish on offer, including flying fish, king mackerel (or kingfish), parrotfish, sailfish, hogfish, snappers and mahi mahi to name a few. Lobster is also found throughout the islands, along with juicy oysters, big prawns and sweet scallops.

One type of shellfish that you seem to find everywhere throughout the Caribbean and Bahamas is the conch. These saltwater snails have an interesting history – as well as being tasty as fritters or in chowders and salads. The unusual shells are sold everywhere as tacky souvenirs, but are regularly confiscated at the airport, as it is illegal to export them! Many islanders use the shell as a ceremonial trumpet – as part of religious rites or as a call to battle. One of my friends even used one to call her guests for mealtimes on the boat she was working on! In Buddhism the conch is a symbol of Buddha’s teachings, which spreads in all directions like the sound of the conch trumpet.

Here’s a recipe for conch fritters in beer batter, with a spicy jam dip. The conch meat has to be tenderised before use: you can normally buy it prepared for you. Make the dip first and allow plenty of time to cool.

Conch Fritters in Caribbean Beer Batter, with Tomato
& Hot Chilli Jammin’

For the dip:

300g yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
300g red cherry tomatoes, halved
4 green chillies, fi nely sliced
4 red chillies, fi nely sliced
1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
600g white sugar
125ml white wine vinegar
For the fritters:
500g fresh conch meat, cut into thumb-
sized pieces
125g “00” fl our
30g cornfl our
300ml Kalik or Carib beer
½ teaspoon fi ne sea salt
Oil for frying

1. Remove some of the seeds from the red
chillies to reduce the heat, or use a Scotch
Bonnet chilli if you’re really daring!
2. Put all the ingredients into a thick-
bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil.
3. Turn down to a medium simmer, until
it becomes thick and syrupy, stirring
occasionally to stop it sticking.
4. Allow to cool completely before serving.
5. Meanwhile, sieve the fl our and cornfl our
together, stir in the cold, freshly opened
beer until just smooth – do this as your oil
is heating up.
6. Gently coat the conch pieces in batter
and fry until golden.
Serve the fritters with plenty of freshly
chopped coriander, coarse sea salt and
lime wedges. Present the jam in a small
pot on the side. Use this at your next
limbo party... you be jammin’ and
dippin’, mon!

No comments:

Post a Comment