Recipes, Chef Norman Van Aken, Conch Salad with Watermelon, Florida, Orlando, Seafood, Salad, Caribbean, Clams, How to prepare conch, Shellfish


Conch Salad with Watermelon

Courtesy of chef Norman Van Aken, Copyright © 2002

Many people never have the treat of tasting fresh conch. I often tell people to substitute fresh clams, but with overnight delivery systems in place this makes almost every ingredient available. Conch freezes very well, so if you were to buy a few pounds you could have some for the next time you want a taste of one of the luxuries of the Caribbean.

Conch Salad with Watermelon

Photograph courtesy of chef Norman Van Aken


About 10 cups, serves 10 as an appetizer


- 1.5 pounds fresh conch, cleaned and diced small

- 3 cloves finely minced garlic

- 1 small red onion, diced small

- 1 red pepper, diced small

- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced small

- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small

- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

- 1 recipe “Salsa of Life” (see below)


1) Put the cucumber in a colander over a bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt.

2) This will pull out some of the water.

3) After 10 to 15 minutes rinse well and pat dry.

4) Place the conch in a bowl with the garlic, onion, peppers, cucumber, olive oil and cilantro.

5) Pour the “Salsa of Life” over it and combine.

6) Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight, allowing the citrus juices to “cook” the conch.

7) Taste and season with Tabasco, salt and pepper.

8) Serve in small bowls garnished with lime wedges, chives.

9) Serve with and corn nuts, tortilla chips or crackers.


Salsa Of Life

Courtesy of chef Norman Van Aken, Copyright © 2002


5 cups


- 1 large tomato, halved, seeds removed

- 1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeds removed

- 2 red bell peppers, halved, seeds removed

- 1 small Spanish onion, peeled and halved 

- 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

- 1/4 cup lemon juice

- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

- 1 cup tomato juice

- 1/4 cup sugar

- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

- 1 teaspoon freshly toasted and ground black pepper

- Tabasco, to taste


1) Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

2) Place the tomato, jalapeño, bell peppers and onion, cut sides down, on the pan and roast until charred, about 30 minutes.

3) Set aside to cool.

4) Slip the skins off the tomato, jalapeno and peppers and put in a blender with the onion, juices, sugar, salt and pepper.

5) Blend until smooth. 

6) The “Salsa of Life” can be made a day in advance and held covered in the refrigerator.


Norman’s - Orlando, FL  |  Tuyo - Miami, FL


Chef Norman Van Aken is the author of five cookbooks, executive chef of Norman’s in Orlando and consulting chef for Norman’s 180 in Coral Gables.


He’s credited with coining the term “Fusion Cooking” and is known as “the founding father of New World Cuisine” -- a mixture of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors.


- My Key West Kitchen: Recipes and Stories [buy it]

- New World Kitchen : Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine [buy it]

- Norman's New World Cuisine [buy it]

- Norman Van Aken's Feast of Sunlight [buy it]

- The Great Exotic Fruit Book: A Handbook with Recipes [buy it]

Photo courtesy of Norman Van Aken






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My Key West Kitchen: Recipes and Stories

Purchase on / Powell’s Books

New World Kitchen : Latin American and Caribbean Cuisine

Purchase on / Powell’s Books

Norman's New World Cuisine

Purchase on / Powell’s Books

Norman Van Aken's Feast of Sunlight

Purchase on / Powell’s Books

The Great Exotic Fruit Book: A Handbook with Recipes

Purchase on / Powell’s Books


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