Chef Nina Compton
These crispy fritters from James Beard Award-winning chef Nina Compton are packed with the flavors of the Caribbean where conch is plentiful. For statestide snackers, the recipe works just as well with cooked shrimp. Chef Compton accompanies the croquettes with pickled pineapple tartar sauce.
Conch or shrimp
1 onion, julienned
½ bunch fresh rosemary, broken into pieces
8 oz. conch or shrimp
3 qt. water
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 tbsp. pickled pineapple or mango, finely diced
2 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. jalapeño or Calabrese chili, finely chopped
1 tsp. chopped capers and 2 tbsp. caper liquid (from jar)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, plus wedges, for serving/garnish
Salt, to taste
Pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped (about ½ cup)
2½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
4 cups whole milk, warmed
1 bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne
8 oz. poached conch or shrimp (recipe above)
½ tsp. salt
1. For conch or shrimp, in saute pan, caramelize onions; stir in rosemary. Add water and bring to a boil. Add conch and simmer 45 minutes. If using shrimp, simmer 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap. Let shellfish cool completely in liquid.
3. Meanwhile, prepare tartar sauce: In bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
4. For fritters, heat the butter in a deep skillet pan over medium heat. Add onions and peppers; cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1½ cups flour until well blended; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly until flour is cooked through and golden in color.
5. Pour milk into flour mixture and cook, stirring continuously, for about 2 minutes; add spices. Cook until you have a thick béchamel sauce.
6. Finely chop conch or shrimp; add to saute pan and sprinkle in the salt and nutmeg. Cook for another 2 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough that you can mold in your hands. (Carefully pick up a bit and try to ball it with your hands; it shouldn’t be too sticky. If it does stick to your hands, cook a little longer.) Then spread the mixture on a cookie sheet and let it cool to room temperature.
7. Take a spoonful of cooled béchamel mixture and roll it in your hands to make a small cylinder the size of a wine cork. Roll the cylinder in the remaining 1 cup flour, then in beaten eggs and then in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the croquettes.
8. In a small, deep frying pan, heat olive oil to 375 F. Add the croquettes in small batches, making sure they are covered completely in oil. Fry until they have a nice golden color, about 1 to 2 minutes.
9. Transfer croquettes to paper towels to drain. Repeat with all the croquettes and serve hot with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.