The sprawling megaresort of Atlantis serves an obligatory version of the Bahamian national dish – that would be conch salad, not fritters – in its overpriced restaurants. But that carefully-prepared version of the dish is a distant relative of the real thing, which is sold in styrofoam containers at roadside stands elsewhere on the island of New Providence. That’s bad news for the conchs because the process used by locals is both haphazard and brutal. The slug-like snails are forced out of their elaborate calcium carbonate homes with a hammer and pick, then scored, sliced, and tossed in with green and peppers.
The best conch salad in Nassau is for sale at Dino’s Tropical Salad in the worth the historic neighborhood of Gambier. Each dish is prepared to order at this shack-style joint that puts a twist on the original conch salad – a mix of conch, green pepper, onion, tomato and goat pepper doused with freshly squeezed lime and orange juice – by adding pineapple, apple and mango to the mix. Grab one of the brightly colored stools, which sit across the road from the neighborhood boat ramp, and watch local fisherman unload the pink-lipped shellfish, piling them into wheelbarrows and cleaning them nearby. Everyone is industrious but no one is in a hurry – least of all Dino himself.
“This is where to experience the island, its people and its food,” explains taxi driver Siggy Bethel, a regular with a mouth full of conch foot. “It’s the Bahamian Viagra. You have to be careful.”
Nassau Tropical Conch Salad
Ingredients (Serves One) 1 large conch
- 1 halved lime
- 1 apple
- ½ large yellow onion
- ½ mango
- 1 tomato
- ½ green pepper
- 1-inch thick slice of pineapple.
Step One: Rub the meat from the conch with a cut lime then score the meat then dice it finely and set aside.
Step Two: Chop the fruits and vegetables into fine pieces.
Step Three: Finely mince a scotch bonnet pepper to taste (be careful, they’re potent).
Step Four: Using your hands, mix all of the above ingredients thoroughly together atop a large cutting board.
Step Five: Pile the mix into a medium-sized bowl, using your hands to shape the form into a tall cone.
Step Six: Squeeze the juice of several limes and one large orange over the entire mixture and enjoy immediately, preferably with an ice-cold Caribbean brew.