Turks and Caicos

I don’t know about where you live, but here in Michigan we are looking at a forecast that includes a chance of sleet and snow. The quickly approaching winter has me longing for these white sand beaches of the Turks and Caicos. We found loads of recipes from the Caribbean but few that were specific to the Turks and Caicos. We found a bunch of sites referencing that they eat a lot of conch and hominy, but no specific recipes. 

My favorite recipe that we found went like this:

2 humans

12 days of vacation

2 plane tickets

2 beach chairs

And a bunch of rum punch

Something tells me I would have really enjoyed our week of Turks and Caicos if we had followed this recipe. But this wasn’t really feasible at this moment in our lives. So we opted for Conch Fritters, rum glazed pineapple, and fried plantains. We may have whipped up a batch of rum punch too. We didn’t really have the ingredients for rum punch,  mainly we were missing all of the punch parts and just had rum…Drinking straight rum at 6pm isn’t generally a part of our evening routine, so Colin juiced oranges, limes, and lemons that were in the fridge and let me tell you, fresh squeezed juice brings rum punch to the next level.  

With a rum punch in hand, I chased a very busy toddler around the house while Colin did most of the cooking. This tends to be how things work in our household these days. One wrangles the little goat while the other is productive.  Good thing we love the goat a whole lot.

One of the hardest parts of preparing for this meal was finding conch. Being in the midwest, conch is not an ingredient that is readily available at all grocery stores. Luckily we have a fancy fish market at the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids. Fish Lads to the rescue! They only had a frozen supply at $18/lb, but we figured fresh conch would be well beyond our budget and next to impossible to find, so we settled for frozen. To be clear, $18/lb for meat is also not in our regular budget for groceries. I am a stay at home mom and Colin works for a non-profit, so most days we clip our coupons and eat what’s on sale. For the fun of the meal, we decided to count it as a bit of date night and splurge for the conch.  

The Conch Fritters turned out wonderfully. They tasted a bit like a deep fried ball of dough, cheese, and a little bit of seafood, though the seafood flavor was very mild. There is actually no cheese in the fritters but the consistency of them felt kind of creamy and decadent on the inside. Our fried plantains were a little bit chewy, but the maple sugary glaze made it worth the extra chewing effort.

Conch Fritters, Rum Glazed Pineapple, Pinacolada sauce, and Fried Plantains

I knew that Colin was making rum glazed pineapple but I assumed that most of the rum would cook off. So I cut up some pieces and gave them to Micah to try. The pineapple had been grilled and had this flavor that only comes from a charcoal grill. Micah pushed it away. Thank goodness he didn’t eat it!…turns out a bunch of the rum didn’t cook off. They were relatively boozy pineapple rings. My friends at child protective services—I promise it was an honest mistake and he didn’t eat it. I’ll be more careful next time.  

Micah is a fairly good eater, but he often survives on fruit and only fruit. So I gave him a whole conch fritter and waited to see how he would respond. He devoured the entire thing! Despite being deep fried, conch is actually a fairly healthy food, I think. There are 33g of protein in a cup of conch, that may be the most protein Micah has ever consumed in one sitting. It also has 278% of the daily values of B12…I’m not sure if this is a healthy thing or if that puts a body into B12 overload, but I’m going to count it as a good thing for today. 

The whole meal was pretty delicious and did a nice job of mentally transporting us to a white sand beach in the sunshine. Turks and Caicos, we’d love to visit someday. 

Conch Fritters

Yields6 Servings

 1 lb Conch (Fresh or Frozen)
 ½ Jalepeno Pepper(Seeded)
 1 Onion
 1 Stalk of Celery
 ½ Green Pepper
 ½ Red Bell Pepper
 2 Eggs
 1 tsp Thyme
 1 ½ cups Flour
 ¾ tsp Baking Powder
 ½ tsp curry powder
 ¾ tsp salt
 ¼ tsp Fresh cracked pepper
 ½ cup club soda
 ½ cup Beer (any kind, whatever kind you have)

1

Place the conch on a cutting board and use a meat mallet to pound the conch to about 1/4" thickness. Use a very sharp chef's knife to mince the meat. Transfer the conch to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse quickly 10-15 times to chop the conch. Transfer the chopped conch to a large mixing bowl.

2

Add the jalepeno and 1/2 of the celery to the food processor. Pulse several times until they are finely minced. Transfer the pepper and celery to the conch.

3

Mince the remaining half of the celery and add it to the conch along with the onions(minced), bell peppers (minced), eggs and thyme. Stir to combine. Set aside.

4

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.

5

Add the flour mixture to the conch and stir until well combined then add the beer and club soda and stir until combined.

6

Heat oil in a pan to 350° (we used peanut oil). Use a little scoop to try and make each fritter roughly the same size. Gently drop the batter into the hot oil from just above the surface so it doesn't splash. When you add the fritters to the oil, they will sink to the bottom of the skillet, then float. Cook the fritters for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Cut up a paper bag and place the pieces on top of a cooling rack. Use a slotted spoon transfer the fritters to a cooling rack.

Ingredients

 1 lb Conch (Fresh or Frozen)
 ½ Jalepeno Pepper(Seeded)
 1 Onion
 1 Stalk of Celery
 ½ Green Pepper
 ½ Red Bell Pepper
 2 Eggs
 1 tsp Thyme
 1 ½ cups Flour
 ¾ tsp Baking Powder
 ½ tsp curry powder
 ¾ tsp salt
 ¼ tsp Fresh cracked pepper
 ½ cup club soda
 ½ cup Beer (any kind, whatever kind you have)

Directions

1

Place the conch on a cutting board and use a meat mallet to pound the conch to about 1/4" thickness. Use a very sharp chef's knife to mince the meat. Transfer the conch to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse quickly 10-15 times to chop the conch. Transfer the chopped conch to a large mixing bowl.

2

Add the jalepeno and 1/2 of the celery to the food processor. Pulse several times until they are finely minced. Transfer the pepper and celery to the conch.

3

Mince the remaining half of the celery and add it to the conch along with the onions(minced), bell peppers (minced), eggs and thyme. Stir to combine. Set aside.

4

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.

5

Add the flour mixture to the conch and stir until well combined then add the beer and club soda and stir until combined.

6

Heat oil in a pan to 350° (we used peanut oil). Use a little scoop to try and make each fritter roughly the same size. Gently drop the batter into the hot oil from just above the surface so it doesn't splash. When you add the fritters to the oil, they will sink to the bottom of the skillet, then float. Cook the fritters for 4-5 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Cut up a paper bag and place the pieces on top of a cooling rack. Use a slotted spoon transfer the fritters to a cooling rack.

Conch Fritters

Rum Punch

Yields2 Servings

 3 oz Rum of choice
 2 ½ oz Juice (orange, pineapple, mango or whatever else you can find in your fridge)
 1 Lime
 1 dash Bitters

1

Squeeze (or pour) juices from oranges and other fruits into shaker.

2

Add the juice from 1 lime.

3

Add rum. (We used Plantation Original Dark, a great Caribbean rum and an affordable price).

4

Add the bitters.

5

Add ice and shake, just until cold. Strain into glasses.

Ingredients

 3 oz Rum of choice
 2 ½ oz Juice (orange, pineapple, mango or whatever else you can find in your fridge)
 1 Lime
 1 dash Bitters

Directions

1

Squeeze (or pour) juices from oranges and other fruits into shaker.

2

Add the juice from 1 lime.

3

Add rum. (We used Plantation Original Dark, a great Caribbean rum and an affordable price).

4

Add the bitters.

5

Add ice and shake, just until cold. Strain into glasses.

Rum Punch

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