Conch cocktail | Makes 4 servings
1 pound conch meat, cleaned and tough skin removed
¼ small red onion, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
1 cup fresh lime juice (about 8 Persian limes)
½ habañero pepper, stem removed, deveined and minced (about ½ teaspoon)
¼ mango, peeled and cut into small cubes (about ½ cup)
¼ cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced (about ½ cup)
1/2 raw calabacita or Mexican zucchini, cut into ½ inch cubes (about ½ cup)
¼ key lime juice (about 4 key limes)
3/4 teaspoon Fleur de Sel or sea salt
Place the conch meat in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Using a meat tenderizer, pound the conch meat to 1/8 inch thick. Once tenderized, cut the conch meat into ½-inch chunks. Transfer the meat to a glass or ceramic bowl and add the onion and Persian lime juice. Make sure the conch chunks float freely in the lime juice to allow thorough and even marinating. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 3 minutes. Strain and set aside. Discard the lime juice.
In a separate bowl, combine the minced habañero, mango, cucumber and calabacita. Carefully incorporate the conch meat and onions. Add they key lime juice and season with salt. Mix well. Adjust the spiciness by adding or reducing the amount of the minced habañero peppers.
Divide the mixture evenly into four chilled cocktail glasses. Accompany with totopos.
It is easier to work with a mango that is not fully ripened. Keep in mind that green mangoes add additional tartness to the flavor. Also, use gloves when handling any type of peppers, in particularly habañero peppers as they are one of the hottest peppers.
Order the cookbook here: Hugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico
Learn more about Chef Hugo Ortega here: ChefHugoOrtega.com