CASKE 2000 > Survival > Food > Conch


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Preparing Conch

Conch live in beautiful shells. They aren't a shellfish per say but a sea snail. They can be prepared in a variety of different ways, as  ceviche, sauteed with garlic, etc. The problem is to extract them from their tough shell. Unless you know the technique, you might find yourself with nothing else but a beautiful shell to look at. For cooking ideas, don’t miss Luke’s cuisine and outdoor cooking pages.

How and Where to Find Conch

Sandy bottoms with grass are usually the best places to look for conch. They can be found in very shallow water in most of the Caribbean but can be dificult to see.

How to Extract the Conch from the shell

You found a few beautiful conch, but you're about to give up or risk breaking the blade of your knife to extract the snail. The reason you can't get at the meat is because he is able to create a vacuum and remains strongly anchored in his shell. You need to break the vacuum by making a hole in the shell on the top on an inside spiral. To pierce this hole, the best way is to use the sharp tip of another conch. If you don't have another conch, a small ax or a hammer can be used. If you have a very strong knife you might be able to use a stone, but you might break your knife. Once you have made a hole and broken the suction you can just pull the snail out with the tip of your knife. It won't offer much resistance anymore. If you can't see the snail, you can break the edge of the outermost spiral part of the shell until the snail becomes visible, then pull it out.

How to Prepare the Conch

You have your snail out of the shell and you see a pair of eyes, a dark part with a very strong foot, a tough nail which was used to protect the snail. You remove all of those. Then you peel off the dark colored skin and  only keep the white part. You cut the white part (about half of the snail) in small pieces and prepare them in ceviche or cook them (follow one of Luke recipes).   Photo 1   ;   Photo 2 (detail)

If nothing works, what can I do?

You broke your knife or didn't have any to start with. You only have one conch. You just can't get through it what can you do? Just boil the full shell, extract it from the shell (easy once boiled) and add a touch of lime. If you don't have a pot to boil it, make a fire and just barbeque your conch (or just throw it in the fire). Once cooked, extract part of the snail, add lime and eat it up. All the parts we suggested to remove before are edible (except the nail), some are just a bit more chewy than other, but it's still delicious. If you can't extract the snail after cooking it, break the first layer of the shell with another one or a stone then you can easily pull the meat out (use a stick if you have to).

A little bit of cuisine

Luke prepares amazing things with very few ingredients. Don't miss his cuisine page.

Check out his special conch recipes:

Conch Ceviche

Field Ceviche: Conch Cured in Lime

And More. . .



Check our section about the Mentawai Indigenous People

Read the page about the most useful trees in the life of the Mentawais

Check our article about Irian Jaya (published by Wilderness Way magazine)

Check our Adventure Stories page for action stories of rough days and tough times !

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