Picada de Caracol

Conch Appetizer

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 4


Appears in

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

Secrets of Colombian Cooking

By Patricia McCausland-Gallo

Published 2004

  • About

Large conch is found all around the coasts of Colombia. It is very good to eat, and the shells are beautiful. It is a delicacy and is said to have powerful aphrodisiac properties. Since it is a large muscle, it is very tough and must be softened with a mallet. People in the islands and coastal regions hit conch with a rock and then simmer it for two hours.

You can serve this as an appetizer with toasts, on lettuce as a salad, or just as is, alone.


  • 2 pounds conch, cleaned
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 carrot, halved
  • 5 sprigs cilantro
  • 1 whole scallion
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce


  1. Place the conch on a work surface where you can hit it hard with a small, heavy pot or meat pallet on all sides; this will soften it.
  2. Cover with water in a medium pot, and simmer with the onion, carrot, cilantro, scallion, bay leaves, and peppercorns for 2 hours. Alternatively, you can cook it for 40 minutes in a pressure cooker with the same stock ingredients and enough water to cover. Release the pressure, open the pot and set aside to cool. Drain the conch and discard the cooking water and vegetables.
  3. Place the minced onion, lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, parsley, garlic paste, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and hot sauce in a nonreactive bowl. Mix well and set aside until the conch is ready.
  4. Cut the conch into ½-inch pieces and place in the bowl with the sauce. Mix well and set aside in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours for the conch to absorb the flavors.