Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 70! Haiti - Conch Fritters with Watercress Dip - Subbbbblime - Up Next, Honduras

It took me four stores, but I finally got the watercress. Yet try as I might, I could not find conch in canned, frozen or fresh form. So, although I do my best to stay true to authentic ingredients, I had to opt for fresh chopped clams as a conch substitute for tonight's wonderful Haitian meal of conch fritters with watercress dip.

Located on the Western half the Islands of Hispaniola which it shares with the Dominican Republic, Haiti was the first nation in Latin America to claim independent governance during a slave rebellion in 1804. Haiti is also one of the poorest countries in the Americas and has been besieged by relentless political violence, corruption, poverty, the AIDS epidemic and most recently a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in which 230,000 people died. Today, the country continues to struggle to rebuild.

Although Haitian food has many similarities to Caribbean cooking, it is unique in it's Creole and French influences, favoring hot peppers as a seasoning. Starches such as rice, corn millet, yams, beans, plantains and tropical fruits are all enjoyed by Haitians.

This meal is dedicated to Mirlande - artist, singer and activist whom I am privileged to call my friend. Check our her life's work, the Eritaj Foundation  as well as her beautiful music -

 Peppers for tonight's meal, generously given to me by my awesome friend and neighbor, Mayor Blair
 A lovelier site than fresh watercress I have rarely seen - I may have to write an ode to watercress...
 The dip couldn't be easier - everything goes into the blender -salt is optional, but I am forever a salt girl
 Voila - la couleur est incroiable!
 I love all the fresh vegetables and colors that go into the fritters - tasty and beautiful
 Freshly chopped clams (I bought 'em that way - I did not have time for shucking and such)

All fried up - drain and cool on paper towels
There we are - a wonderful meal of conch (clam) fritters with watercress dip!

Conch Fritters (Recipe adapted from the Caribbean Choice)

1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 -1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 small white onion, diced finely
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded, minced
1/4-1/2 cup milk
3/4 pound chopped conch (I used clams)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 cup vegetable oil for frying


1/2 bunch watercress
1 small bunch parsley
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. wine or balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic)
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped

To Make Dip:

Combine all ingredients in blender; process until smooth. Refrigerate dip until ready to serve.

To make Fritters:

In large bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add the bell peppers, onions, garlic, parsley, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper. Stir in milk; beat batter well. Stir in chopped conch or clams, salt and black pepper.(Ideally, batter should rest in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight to achieve the right non-sticky consistency). In a deep skillet or electric fryer, heat oil to 375F. Using a slotted spoon, remove fritters; transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve with dip on separate bowl.

Final Assessment:  This was a great dish. Served with a salad it's a meal, served alone, it's an awesome appetizer. If I could have found conch, it might have been even better....but the clams were pretty damn good! Oh, and the flavor of the watercress dip, combined with the hot peppers was hot and cool at the same time - lovely!


KK said...

these look so amazing - I adore clam fritters, and that dip looks fantastic !! But....I'm so bummed you didn't come to H Mart with us, they definitely have conch, that's where Mark got it for the chowder. Next time you need it call me, I'll deliver :)

Clay said...

those look amazing!!!

SpiceFan said...

If you like Caribbean recipes, I just came across something called the Tropical Sun Cook Of The Year competition. The winner gets their recipes published in a cookbook and you can win an Apple iPad. To enter the competition go to

sadie said...

Thanks! I'll look it up!!