Carrucho, or conch, is very popular in the Caribbean. Some countries have begun to close the "season" for collecting these mollusks, which makes them harder to find on menus. But until then, enjoy carrucho empanadillas and carrucho frito (fried conch) to your heart's desire.
To get the conch nice and tender (not chewy and tough) a bit of beating is required—like tenderizing meat.
I love conch empanadillas, which sometimes are prepared with a bit of a sofrito, giving it a fresh taste. The empanadilla is similar to the Mexican empanada, which is essentially a fried dough pocket.
It is beneficial to the marine environment to leave the conch shells, because the organisms will re-use the shells. Hurray for natural recycling!
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Boating Through Paradise: A Trip to La Parguera
The most serene day trip is to this small town on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, just an hour south of the popular surf destination of Rincon.
Hourly boat rentals are available for you to skip around to all the local ocean mangroves that surround the area. Johnny's Boats is your best bet, located in the center of Parguera marina. Ask for Naji to help set you up with your own outboard motor boat; he'll greet you with a smile!
Each boat fits around five people comfortably. Add a cooler and sandwiches and you're looking at a beautiful excursion. The Caribbean Ocean never looked so blue.
By far one of the coolest things to do in Parguera is tour through the man-made mangrove channels. These channels were cut years ago, and local fishermen would use them to protect themselves from storms as they made their way back to the marina. I enjoy the longer and shorter channels and would recommend hiring a knowledgable captain for the day to take you through both if you prefer to travel by boat.
If you are adventurous and have the endurance, take off in a kayak from the marina and head west. You'll find a maze of channels and just enjoy exploring on your own time.
Don't get out into the water, as many mangrove and seagrass beds hide "upside down jellyfish" which sit innocently on the bottom unless disturbed by excessive water motion. Just a heads-up!