Authentic Bahamian Conch Fritters Demystified!
Bahamian Conch Fritters
How to Make Real Grammy-Style Bahamain Conch Fritters.
First, lemme say this is not a recipe! ( My recipe is being saved for my cookbook.) This is a how-to-guide of sorts. Do this and you will not go wrong. Next you will need the following: ( I don't have measurements here. Again I said this is just a guide. However any change or omission of any ingredient and You on Yah own Like Pat Bone!)
Fresh conch skin
Fresh conch bubby Dried conch Sifted all purpose flour Baking powder Yellow onion Green pepper
Bahamian bottled tomato Goat pepper Dried thyme Sea salt
A lil history on conch fritters- Fritters are a combination of European, Asian and African influences. In the Bahamas our fritter historically uses the popular sea snail, conch. It was and should still use mostly the discarded parts. So conch fritters without skin, bubby and dried conch water will NOT give you the recipe you desire.
THE IMPACT OF EACH INGREDIENT
Fresh conch should be, cleaned thoroughly, tenderized and diced small, but not too small as it is the showcase of the batter. However, it will need to work in harmony with the other types of conch. * Listen if you don't use fresh conch like Mama and dem' then it won't be the same.
There is a certain flavor given from dried meats known as Umami. This umami, which is also found in the popular ingredient Accent MSG, is naturally found in dried conch. The dried conch should be soaked, then boiled and the water it is cooked in, strained and cooled. This is the Nectar that you will use to make your batter. You can add parts of cooked dried conch into the ground conch , but often that cooked dried conch was used in Sunday dinner pots the day after. *Be careful as this liquid can becoming very salty and conchy , so add it sparingly, as needed.
3. Have you ever seen one of these? Well back in the day these were the only food processors and meat grinders around. To this day I still own and use one of these. This is how you "process" the conch skin, conch bubby and optional dried conch! For my modern crew you can roughly dice the conch and add it to a food processor. If you do then you will be looking for a course ground beef texture in the end. DO NOT PRECOOK.
4. There is something about the trilogy of onions, bell peppers and dried thyme in Bahamian cuisine that works and here it is most important. Cut these smaller than you will the fresh conch . There is also a certain "zip" that comes from bottled tomatoes that works in the recipe as well.
KETCHUP IS OFTEN USED NOWADAYS, BUT IT IS NOT THE ORGINAL RECIPE!
*Do not use ketchup.
When making conch fritter batter never overmix. Add the wet to the dry ingredients or add everything except the flour then mix. You DO NOT want to make a thick glutinous batter. I do the latter and add the flour last. This way, I can ensure that my base is perfectly seasoned and ready to go. Also you are not looking for a thick easy to manage mix. You are looking for something that is a little thicker than pancake mix.
Hear me and hear me well!
Thick conch fritter batters were introduced by mainly, hotel cooks and chefs to make it easier to fry. It is common to use a spoon or an ice cream scoop to make conch fritter in a commercial kitchen, but that is absolutely NOT correct. That is why you get doughy fritters. You want a wet "drop" batter if you want those lite, crispy, airy conch fritters we all love.
Finally always do the following:
Allow the batter to sit for at least 10 minutes to hydrate the flour and activate the baking powder.
Conch fritters are traditionally made outside in a cast iron skillet over open flame. So, I always use my skillet. If you don't have one, make sure and use a heavy bottom pot or deep pan.
I use vegetable shortening, but you can use a vegetable oil instead. The oil needs to be consistently hot', but not too hot and never too cold. Cold oil produces greasy fritters.
Always test a few first before the fry begins. That is your cooks reward. Check to make sure everything is just right!
Mix your mayonnaise first and you will never get lumps in your sauce!