Caye Caulker Style Conch Fritters

Belize has a lot of amazing recipes. From rice and beans to meat pies with the perfect hint of habanero, to black soup and the best tamale ever, dukunu. There are so many amazing things to eat in Belize. There is one special item that I remember from childhood. As a kid, the best conch fritters were the ones sold in plastic tubs covered with clean tea towels, keeping the tender conch fritters warm. It took some work to get, but I got the right recipe to share with you.

When I was a child, other children would sell their mother’s conch fritters till they were all sold out; it didn’t take long before they ran home to give the money and tub to their mom before running back out to play. The best memories.  Like every recipe, there is a controversy about the proper and original way to make Belizean-style conch fritters. The recipe my mom worked hard to find includes green pepper, not celery.

Since moving from Belize, I paid for college by working in a restaurant in Key West where conch fritters are made the Bahamian way. Bahamian conch fritters are made with both red and green bell peppers. I cooked in a very popular restaurant in Key West during my university years, where I learned all three of the main recipes but found them nowhere as yummy as our Belize-style conch fritters. Belize fritters lay flatter and have more of a spongy texture and the most delicious conch flavor. In Belize, they are made with thinly cubed green peppers, a wet batter, and lots of minced conch, then fried to golden brown.

The main differentiator of Belizean conch fritters is green pepper. I typically don’t like green bell peppers, but for a few recipes, they must be in stew chicken and red beans, and they have to be in conch fritters. There is a controversy. I learned about the controversy when I decided to put this recipe on SightingSarah, and don’t worry, I’m getting there. I hate when people go on and on before the recipe details, but there is a real controversy.

When looking for the recipe for the old-fashioned Caye Caulker style and Belize style conch fritters, I found the San Pedro Sun recipe all over the Google search. It calls for celery. No way! Absolutely no celery; this is new and not allowed. My mom asked some friends in San Pedro who have restaurants if they add celery; they claim it adds a nice flavor. But conch is sweet and delicate; celery has that strong celery flavor to ruin the delicate balance of the conch. No, I disagree with it.

The flavor of these soft inside, crispy outside conch fritters brings me home to Belize every time, and in Caye Caulker, I’ve had the fondest memories of the best conch fritters. Unfortunately, my mother’s friend, who made the best restaurant ones in Caye Caulker, has since moved to the US, so her restaurant no longer exists, but there are some restaurants still holding true to the tradition of these yummy morsels of conch. You can still get good ones at Happy Lobster in Caye Caulker or The Hut in San Pedro.

 How to make Belize conch fritters  

Like I said, it’s the green pepper, not celery.

Conch Fritter Ingredients

1 pound of conch meat, minced or chopped

1 medium onion finely chopped

1 medium green bell pepper finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic minced

2 scallions finely chopped

¼ cup of fresh cilantro chopped

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of banking powder

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper ( fine black pepper)

½ teaspoon of finely shopped habanero if you can get it; if not, hot sauce is ok, or if you can’t get habanero sauce, then cayenne pepper.

1 egg lightly beaten

½ cup of milk

Oil for frying.