Monday, 23 July 2012

Recipe - Topshell (Conch) With Onion, Chilli And Lime

The topshells ( a type of conch) live on rocky shores and are found closer to the low water marks. They are sea snails with shells shaped like a top, hence the name topshell. They live on algae that thrive on the rocks.

Topshells have a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids essential for heart health, though not as much as salmon or tuna. Like other seafood, these snails are an excellent source of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc. In general, seafood are good for the brain, the heart and the joints.

This topshell recipe is a very popular accompaniment with beer. So it is not a surprise to learn that they are served at pubs.

In this recipe, I use topshells that are ready to eat. These topshells are already cooked and canned in a brine, usually oyster sauce. There are quite a few brands in the market but I have tried 2 of them. They are the Yifon brand topshell and the Fortune brand topshell.

When to buy them ?
The best time to buy these canned topshells is during the 7th Month Festival and the Chinese Lunar New Year when they are sold at a discount.
Yifon Topshell

What do they taste like ?
The texture is soft and chewy, something like the abalone.

How to season the topshells ?
Open the can and drain off some of the sauce. The sauce is salty but keep a spoonful or two as sauce.

Cut the topshells into thinner slices so that everyone can have their share.

Place the cut topshells in a bowl.
Toss in 2 onions, thinly sliced.
Add  2 to 3 cut chilli padi or small red chillies (more if you like them hot)
Mix well.
Fortune Topshell
Squeeze the juice of 1 or 2 lime for a refreshing taste.

The topshells taste better when serve cold.
So it is good to prepare ahead of time, keep in the fridge for serving later.
In this case, squeeze in the lime juice at the last minute.

This dish goes very well with porridge and is one my of favourites for my Teochew Porridge combo.

In this 9 minute video, the conch is cooked for 20 minutes and then cleaned. They are kept in a jar, filled 3 quarters with vinegar, added with salt and water. A nice way to pickle conch.

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