Conch Chowder

My sister, Phyllis, usually makes her chowder with fresh salmon from Alaska. And, she gets her fresh salmon in Alaska, because she lives there about six months out of the year. Alas, when she finds herself in the sunny Caribbean without any fresh salmon in sight, she knows how to improvise.

She improvises with conch meat. Now, ideally the conch meat would be freshly harvested from the sea by my nephew who is part merman. But, the improvising continues when he is in college and not in Belize. We had to go to the market for our conch. Personally, I don't see how salmon chowder could possibly taste any better than this.


Phyllis' Conch Chowder
San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize
xxxx 1/2 pound bacon xxxx 2 cups coconut milk
  a drizzle of olive oil   1 can corn
  6 cloves garlic   2 medium potatoes
  2 diced carrots   1 1/2 finely chopped conch
  1 green bell pepper   1 Tbs Italian seasoning
  2 celery stalks   1 Tbs hot sauce
  1 onion   salt and pepper to taste
  pinch cayenne pepper   1 cup heavy cream
  1/4 cup flour   1/2 cream cheese
  2 cups chicken stock   cilantro or parsley for garnish

To begin things, you get to smell up your kitchen with one very delicious aroma. In a very large soup pot, fry up your bacon in enough drizzled olive oil as needed over medium heat. Bask in the "baconness" of it all.

When the bacon is nearly done, add the diced garlic in for the final thirty seconds. And, as long as you are dicing, have at it with the carrots, pepper, celery and onion. Then, raise the heat to medium-high and toss in those freshly diced veggies and that pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook for a few minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, stir it all up, and cook for another minute.

Add in the chicken stock, coconut milk, and corn as well as your (pre-cooked or micro-waved) potatoes and bring everything to a boil. Now, if you are in Alaska, you can toss in hashed browns from breakfast to your salmon.

It's now time for the conch meat. Add it to the mix and season to taste with Italian seasoning, hot sauce, as well as the salt and pepper. Simmer for half an hour. After simmering, if you want it extra creamy, and you do, this is when you add in the heavy cream and the cream cheese. Cook until the cream is warm and the cream cheese is melted away.

If you think you must garnish, add some fresh cilantro or parsley. And, then enjoy. You'll want to enjoy it twice so plan on seconds.

Chowder delicious enough for a second look
Copyright 2017 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.