Warm, comforting and full of flavor, Haitian Lambi (Conch Stew) is a traditional Caribbean dish that’s both healthy and delicious.
Thanks to a warm blend of spices and the tender conch that gives a subtle taste of the sea, this bowl of goodness will transport you to the islands with every single spoonful.
Using just the instant pot and with simple prep, it’s an easy-to-make soup that will keep you coming back for more.
Also known as lambi in Haiti, conch (pronounced ‘konk’) is a large sea snail native to the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Conch meat is not dissimilar to squid, with a firm texture and a fairly mild, sweet flavor with just a hint of saltiness. Like most seafood, it has plenty of health benefits! It is a great source of lean protein, iron and calcium and is also high in vitamins E and B12.
You should be able to get hold of some fresh or canned conch meat at local fish markets or online. However, if you can’t find any, it can be easily substituted with whelk, clams, scallops or any other sweet shellfish. Though the flavor and texture won’t be quite the same, it will be just as tasty.
Spices And Flavorings
Typical of Caribbean cuisine, particularly in Haitian Cuisine, this lambi (Conch Stew) is packed full of bold and fiery flavors thanks to a unique blend of herbs, spices and base ingredients like onion and garlic, just as the spices found in our Haitian Epis.
The list of ingredients may look long, but many are staple items that you will probably already have in your pantry.
It is good to use fresh thyme and parsley however – the thyme adds a real earthiness to the dish and gives it that signature Haitian feel, while the parsley adds some brightness that helps to lift the broth.
If you would like to tone down the spiciness of the stew, you can always omit the Scotch bonnet, opt for a milder chilli or use a sprinkle of cayenne pepper instead.
Why Is My Conch Meat Tough
When cooked in a soup or stew, conch meat requires a longer cooking time to avoid a tough and chewy texture. If you find that yours is a little hard to eat, it probably needs a longer time on the stove to be able to fully tenderize.
Some people also like to tenderize the meat a little before cooking, usually by pounding it with a meat mallet. However, you need to be careful to not pound it so much that it starts to fall apart. In this recipe, we also used a meat mallet to tenderize the meat.
How To Clean
When cleaning seafood or any meat for that matter, it is best that you take your time to properly clean the meat. We explained our meat cleaning method here in our Poulet en sauce post.
To clean your conch, begin with placing the meat in a bowl. Using lemon, lime, or sour orange, cut the citrus in half, squeeze out the juice, and thoroughly rub the citrus over the conch.
Next, rinse the meat with cold water, then repeat the step with the other half of the citrus. Rinse again thoroughly with cold or lukewarm water, then drain.
How To Prepare
Cooking your Haitian lambi is very simple and easy. The exact measurements are found in the recipe card below. For now, here’s a quick guide to help you prepare it perfectly each time.
Cut the lambi into bite size pieces.
Pounce the meat with a meat mallet (tenderizer; see picture above). Wash the lambi as described above. Drain and set aside in a bowl.
In a small food processor, add the oil, shallots, and garlic, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Blend well.
Pour the seasoning over the meat. Mix well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap or with the appropriate dish cover, marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, but overnight is best.
When ready to cook, press sauté on the instant pot and adjust the timer to 30 minutes. Add the oil. Then heat the oil. Next, add the tomato paste, shallots, and marinated lambi – Transfer the meat along with the marinading juice in the instant pot.
Next add the thyme, water, scotch bonnet pepper, lemon juice, and the extra bouillon cubes. Cover and turn the knob to sealing. Stir a couple times. Cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When the timer goes off, carefully quick release. Serve over rice or boiled plantains.
Just like many of our Haitian stews, Conch or lambi goes well with our Haitian Black Rice. Here are a few more favorite paring suggestions for this stew.
Instant Pot Haitian White Rice
How To Store
As conch is a type of seafood, care should be taken when storing and refrigerating your stew. Always store any leftovers in an airtight container after they have cooled down.
If you have used fresh conch, you should consume the stew within 1 day, though canned conch should be fine for up to 2. However, use your discretion – if the stew smells overly fishy then it’s probably best to throw it out.
Frequently Asked Questions
Conch is an oversized snail. Conch meat is not dissimilar to squid. It has a firm texture and a fairly mild, sweet flavor with just a hint of saltiness.
Lambi is is a Haitian Stew delicacy.
You may prepare lambi in the instant pot, over the stove, in the oven, or grilled.
When preparing the meat, be sure to not let the lambi sit in hard acid (vinegar), as this will make the meat though and chewy. Acid or vinegar will begin to cook the meat.
Always clean your meat (as described above). This will help get rid of germs and will get rid of the fishy smell.
We recommend you marinate the meat overnight if necessary so that the spices can fully develop in the meat.
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Haitian Lambi Recipe
- Instant Pot
- 1 Lb. Conch or Whelk Fresh or frozen
- 4 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 1 Shallot
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 Bouillon Cubes Vegetable
- ½ Tsp. Ground Allspice
- ½ Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
- Juice From 1 Lemon
For The Stew
- 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- 2 Shallots Chopped
- 4 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
- 2 Cups Water
- About 5 Thyme Sprigs
- 1 Habanero or Scotch Bonnet Pepper Optional
- Juice From 1 Lemon
- 1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
- 1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes You may also use 1 Tbsp. Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
- Cut the conch into bite size pieces. Then use a mallot or meat tenderizer to pounce the meat. Next, wash the meat with lemon by cutting the lemon in half, then rubbing it over the meat. Wash the meat with lukewarm or cold water. Next, blend the spices in the food processor as listed in the seasoning base section above in the ingredients section. Next, pour the mixture over the meat. Mix well. Then cover and marinate for 30 minutes but best overnight.
- On the instant pot, click on sautee and adjust the timer to 30 minutes. Add the oil, shallots, and potato paste. Then add the marinating conch. Stir well. Then add the water, thyme, salt, ground pepper, and bouillon cubes. Stir. Cover and turn the knob to sealing. Click on Cancel on the instant pot. Then select Pressure cook, and cook on high for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Quick release and serve with rice or boiled plantains. Enjoy.
This looks like such a unique and tasty recipe! I have never tried conch meat before, and I am definitely intrigued; looks worth of a restaurant indeed!
Thanks for the helpful guide to prepare conch. I never had the courage to try before this. 🙂
Thank you, Anita.
Yum!!! Looks fantastic and authentic! Love the all those spices!!!
Such a wonderful stew! I love all the spices paired with the conch and detailed the tips to help avoid the tough texture.
This recipe was really good! It was my first time trying a Haitian dish and it turned out perfectly – I followed the instructions as written and it turned out awesome. I love new Instant Pot recipes – Thanks!
Thank you, Sharon.
Umm Yum!! I love Lambi and cook whenever I could find it here in NC. How do you get your plantains to come out so nice and yellow (I’ve tried adding a little vinger to my water didn’t work and tried rubbing the plantain with a lime which worked better). Great recipe looks so good.
Thank you so much, Shalonda. The plantain I use is the semi-sweet plantains. Those usually have a yellow color. I also boil the plantains with the skin on as this helps it to retain the color. I have also used lemon juice when boiling the green plantains to reduce the discoloration; it does help a little.