You and your friends just arrived in Bimini on your 52-foot Viking Convertible. After cruising all morning, you can feel your stomach growling. You ease the boat down the channel toward the marina, and everyone points to a shack leaning out over the water. It is next to a wall of conch shells standing nearly 8 feet high and 30 feet long.
Ashore, in a rented golf cart with a friend, you head into town for lunch. A mile or so up the road is that same shack — with a lot of golf carts parked out front. The aroma of seafood on the stove hits your nose, and the scent of citrus juices pulls you toward the front door in a trance-like state.
Before walking inside though, your friend stops to take a smartphone video of a guy cracking conch shells and pulling out the muscle. Fabien Stuart and his daughter are hard at work, but they make sure to put ice-cold Kaliks in front of you before you’re seated. You sit at the bar so you can watch how they make some of the world’s best conch salad.
They dice the conch, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers with authority, then pile it up and hand-mix it all into arguably the best bowl of melt-in-your-mouth seafood goodness you’ve ever tasted. They top it with garlic salt and freshly squeezed limes. “Not lime juice,” Stuart insists. “Limes.”
How many conchs do you go through in a day? We can go through 200 to 300 conchs in a day, depending on the time of year and how many people come through. How do you keep up with demand? I have a few guys bringing in fresh conch. One guy brings 100, another 50 and so on. How many conchs does it take to make a bowl? I’d say two or three large conchs will make four bowls, or four to six medium to smaller conch. How do you keep them fresh? We have a pen attached to the small dock off to the side that holds them.