ingredient information
A conch (pronounced /'k??k/ "konk" or /'k?nt?/)[1] is one of a number of different species of medium-sized to large saltwater snails or their shells. The true conchs are marine gastropod molluscs in the family Strombidae, and the genus Strombus and other closely related genera. The name "conch" comes, via French, from the Greek word meaning any kind of shellfish or their shells. The first use in English cited by the OED is from 1398, and declares firmly that "Al that fysshe wyth the shelles ben callyd conch" in other words, "all water animals with shells are called conch." Later the word conch narrowed in usage, and is now primarily used for the shells (or whole animals, or meat) of several different kinds of large sea snails that have shells which are pointed at both ends. A conch shell has a high spire and a noticeable siphonal canal. Species often called a "conch" that are not in the family Strombidae include the crown conch Melongena species; the horse conch Pleuroploca gigantea; and the sacred chank or more correctly Shankha shell, Turbinella pyrum. Another use of the word, the conch in architecture is used in the old sense, and refers to a mollusk shell from a different class,the Bivalvia, and which has a totally different shape, that of a scallop. The true conch species within the genus Strombus vary in size from fairly small to very large. Several of the larger species are economically important as food sources; these include the endangered queen conch or pink conch Strombus gigas, which very rarely may produce a pink, gem quality pearl. About 74 species of the Strombidae family are living, and a much larger number of species exist only in the fossil record. [2] Of the living species, most are in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Six species live in the greater Caribbean region, including the Queen Conch, and the West Indian Fighting Conch, Strombus pugilis. Many species of true conchs live on sandy bottoms among beds of sea grass in tropical waters Second in popularity only to the escargot for edible snails, the "meat" of the conch is used as food, either eaten raw, as in salads, or cooked, as in fritters, chowders, gumbos, and burgers. All parts of the conch meat are edible. [3] However, some people find only the white meat appetizing. In East Asian cuisines, this seafood is often cut into thin slices and then steamed or stir-fried. In the Bahamas and the West Indies in general, local people eat conch in soups and salads. Restaurants all over the islands serve this particular meat.[3] In the island of Guam, the people eat it "findened", meaning soaked in soy sauce with vinegar or lemon with hot peppers. In El Salvador, live conch is served in a cocktail of onion, tomato, cilantro, and lemon juice. Lemon juice is squeezed onto the cocktail, causing the conch to squirm, and then the whole thing is slurped down whole, as in the manner of oysters.