Turks & Caicos Ceviche! (using fresh conch, scallops or shrimp)


Harvesting conch from the sea.

Lake Michigan, my heart belongs to you. But a trial separation is essential to my well being. You’ve been naughty of late, frozen over in fact, so I’m seeing the Caribbean. When your temperature rises, and not in keeping with that of the North Pole, we can mend our ways.

Yes. It’s cold outside. Yes. I’m fortunate to have escaped; luckier still to have enjoyed a boating trip that explored the islands of Turks and Caicos while we savored the fruits from her seas. Here’s the resulting sea-to-table recipe for conch salad, simply prepared on the boat within minutes of them harvesting the grass beds in shallow waters of the turquoise sea.


Conch shells freshly pulled from the grasses.

You may not have ever tasted conch, but I’m sure you’ve seen the shell; the size of a grapefruit with horned spikes and a pearlescent pink interior. The animal that resides within the confines of this palace is actually a snail, with a meat that is eaten raw in salads, also enjoyed cooked in fritters, chowders and burgers. All parts of the conch meat are edible, but most prefer the white meat that resembles a chicken breast fillet. The dark meat is edible, but often reserved to use as bait or fillers.


Extracting the conch from the shell.

Unless you’re living in southern Florida, South America or the Caribbean, fresh conch is hard to find. But if you’re living in Ann Arbor, you may sometimes purchase fresh conch meat from Monahans Seafood in Kerrytown. I also located a source in Chaleston where you may have it shipped to your home.

Bay scallops, sliced sea scallops or shrimp are excellent substitutes for the conch in the following recipe.

There are as many variations on ceviche as the countries who enjoy it. Fresh ginger is often added to the marinade,  varieties of corn are added in Peruvian recipes–sweet potatoes in Equadorian.

IMG_5684Inject some warmth into a chilly wintry evening. A mojito or margarita would double the fun. Crank up some calypso and  inject a bit of sunshine into your life.

Better yet; table some vacation time for late next November; the 13th annual conch festival will again be held in Turks and Caicos.

       Recipe: Ceviche (using fresh conch, scallops or shrimp)


  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • Juice from 2 limes
  • Juice from 2 oranges
  • 1 pound fresh, uncooked cracked conch, scallops or shrimp*
  • 3 scallions, light green and white parts only, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeds and membranes removed, diced
  • 1 large ripe red tomato, diced
  • 1 habernero or Scotch bonner pepper (optional)**
  • 1/3 cup washed, shopped cilantro or parsley
  • Your favorite hot sauce
  • Plaintain or corn chips, as needed

*Dice conch; use bay scallops whole or cut in half; slice sea scallops; cut shrimp into 1/3 -inch pieces. Purchase seafood from a trusted sea monger; it must be absolutely fresh or use frozen and thawed.

**These peppers are delicious, traditionally used in ceviche, but may be too hot for a Western palate. Use at your discretion. To handle, wear plastic gloves, cut in half lengthwise, then remove seeds and membranes. The seeds and membranes could burn your skin if you’re not careful.


  • Combine juices and divide in half.
  • Add conch, shrimp or scallops to juices and let sit at room temperature 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in scallions, peppers, remaining juices, cilantro or parsley. Refrigerate and marinate 4 hours or up to 24 hours, refrigerated.
  • Stir in tomato just before serving. Season to taste with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and hot sauce, if desired. Serve with plantain chips, or best-quality tortilla chips.

Yield: 4 servings

Active Time: 20 minutes

Marinate Time: 4-24 hours

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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