Ric Orlando's Tropical Treats, Coconut Shrimp and Conch three ways....


So, It is January in Hudson Valley and yes, it is COLD. After cooking 3 months of local root veggies and braised shanks, it’s time to defy the gods and think summer!
In lieu of planning a quick flight to the Bahamas, these recipes can set you up just right!
Get out the reggae and Zouk cds, make a few Bahama Mamas and invite your friends over for a Pan Caribbean dinner!

It is easy and in a couple of hours, you will be transported!


Coconut Shrimp, Sugar Reef Style
Sugar Reef was a legendry Theme Restaurant in the East Village that specialized in the classic dishes of the Islands. Brightly colored, loud bouncy music and fantastic drinks were the catch and kitch.
These are so much better then the frozen jobbers that have popped up on catering menus around the area.
The guava horseradish sauce is AWESOME!

Serves 4-8
24 shrimp, peeled 21-25 or medium sized.
Vegetable oil for frying
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons cayenne
6 ounces mild beer
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups unsweetened coconut

Mix the dried spices in a bowl.  Mix the beer, starch and baking soda in another bowl. Add the dry mix to the wet and combine well. Spread the coconut on a cookie sheet. Dredge each shrimp in the batter and then coat with coconut. Deep fry or pan fry in batches being cautious not to overcrowd the oil. Cook until golden brown and delicious.
Guava Horseradish Sauce
¼ cup guava nectar
1/2 cup apricot jam
¼ cup lime juice
4 tablespoons prepared horseradish.
Whisk together well.

Serve as a dip for the shrimp, garnish with fresh lime wedges.

Cayman Conch ChowderJuly in January Treats, Coconut Shrimp and
Conch, pronounced “Konk”, is the sweet meat of Caribbean conch. It is a giant sea snail that dwells in the beautiful colorful shells that we listen to the sound of the ocean in.
Now you can make it at home. Conch meat is available localy in the Hudson Valley at Gadaleto's seafood with a few days notice, and online at www.prawnco.com.  It comes in a 5 pound block and you can thaw what you need under running water and refreeze the rest.
Serves 6-8
1 lb conch meat, prepared and minced (see below)
¼ cup coconut oil or melted butter
½ cup diced onion
½ cup celery, diced
½ cup diced red pepper
1 tbls Madras curry powder
juice of two limes (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup flour or fine rice flour
1 ½ cup cubed sweet potato or butternut squash
4 cups bottled clam juice
12 ounces  cream
12 ounces  coconut milk
hot sauce
thyme and parsley

*To prepare the conch, pound with a tenderizer to flatten to ¼ thick, remove the harder outer skin as best you can.
Dice small and then out into a food processor and pulse to a medium grind.
In a heavy pot heat the oil and add the onions, celery, pepper. Saute over medium heat until wilted. Add the diced sweet potato and curry powder. Stir to coat with the spice. Add the lime juice and 1 cup of the clam juice. Simmer for 5 minutes to let the sweet potatoes begin to soften.
Sprinkle with the flour and stir to coat everything well.
Add the conch and the remaining clam juice. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the swet potatoes are al dente. Add the cream and coconut milk and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
Season with hot sauce and the herbs to taste.


Conch on the grill
Grilling conch really brings out its meatiness. I always grill it over high heat because, like octopus,  the char is what makes I so yummy.
1 ½ lbs conch meat, cleaned
1 pineappple
1 red onion
¼ cup lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil or melted butter
2 tbls tamari or soy sauce
2 tbls Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
hot sauce
fresh thyme
2 bayleaves

Cut the conch meat into roughly 1” squares
Do the same with the pineapple and the onions and thread them onto bamboo skewers, alternating between each item til the skewer is full, end to end.
Heat your grill or grill pan or broiler and get it nice and hot.
Mix the butter/oil, soy sauce, mustard and lime juice. Add a few dashes of hot sauce and the fresh herbs. Reserve half of this as your vinaigrette for the finished dish and use half as a baste.
Brush the skewers with this mix all over before grill/broiling. Cook over high heat, basting often, until the conch if cooked and has a fair amount of dark brown and black caramelization.


Conch Salad
Another way conch is enjoyed in the Caribbean is in a ceviche, or cold marinated salad.  This is they way you are most likely to encounter conch at the beach, cold, acidic and spicy!  Watch out!
Serves 4
12 oz white conch meat, pounded and chopped smallish
1 red onion, diced small
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1 tsp chopped garlic
juice of two limes
2 dashes Caribbean hot sauce
salt
olive oil
parsley
thyme

simple baby. Toss, add hot sauce to taste, serve cold. Its great on lettuce leaves or even saltines