One of the most common and well-loved snacks in the Bahamas is conch fritters. These bite-sized nuggets are reminiscent of hush puppies, and they can be found at most restaurants and street vendors.
Despite the ubiquity of conch fritters and myriad other conch dishes, we’ve heard that this giant snail is a locally threatened species. So when Patrice, a local woman who offered to teach me a few traditional dishes, was helping me plan a menu, I asked whether anything might be substituted for conch. Patrice said that lobster is often used instead, and frankly maybe even tastes better. Sold!
Yesterday, in our search for fresh lobster, we met a local fisherman named John Fisherman who free dives (with a snorkel, not a tank) and spears his daily catch of lobster and fish. This method of fishing sounded rather sporting and sustainable, so we purchased several lobsters from him, paying a premium for a clean conscience.
Patrice put together this recipe, and truthfully I think these just may have been the best fritters we’ve had on our Bahamas trip so far. Serve them as an appetizer or as a stand-alone snack.
· 1 c. cooked lobster meat, shredded
· ¼ c. onion, minced
· 2 T. green bell pepper, minced
· 2 c. flour
· 2 T. tomato paste
· 1 ½ T. baking powder
· 1 egg
· Squirt of ketchup
· ½ t. salt
· ¼ t. pepper
· 1 t. dried whole thyme leaves
· Vegetable oil for frying
For “calypso” dipping sauce:
· ¼ c. ketchup
· ½ c. mayonnaise
· Minced hot chilies or hot sauce to taste (optional)
1. Put at least an inch of oil in a medium sauce pan and heat to approximately 350 degrees.
2. Combine the first eleven ingredients in a mixing bowl. Gradually add water, mixing until the batter is the consistency of a thick pancake batter – almost holding together but still a bit runny. Adjust with water or flour to achieve the proper consistency.
3. Using a large tablespoon, scoop out a heaping spoonful of batter and gently drop it in the oil. Add as many dollops to the oil as will fit without crowding the fritters.
4. When the fritters have browned on one side, turn them and fry until they are uniformly cooked and golden brown. Adjust the heat if necessary to maintain even temperature.
5. Using a slotted spoon or strainer, carefully remove the fritters from the oil and place on paper towels to drain.
6. Fry up the remaining fritters.
7. Combine the mayo, ketchup and (optional) chilies or hot sauce to make a dipping sauce.
8. Serve the fritters hot with dipping sauce.