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Oceana Magazine Spring 2011: Chef’s Corner: Sean Brock

In just a few years, Sean Brock has rocketed to a top spot among American chefs. His two restaurants in Charleston, S.C. – McCrady’s, the oldest restaurant in the city, and Husk, a new venture opened in 2010 – have helped revitalize high-end cuisine in the southeast.

A young chef and a Virginia native, Brock hews closely to Southern tradition with his cooking. He sources as many ingredients as possible from the South, including the seafood. All Brock’s seafood is sourced through a single Charleston-based fisherman, Mark Marhefka of Abundant Seafood, and his name appears on the menu.

According to Brock, his customers love the fact that their seafood is just hours off the boat. “Knowing where your ingredients are coming from is something that people are starting to get really excited about, especially because it’s helping the local economy,” he said.

Knowledge is a key tool to promote locavore eating, Brock said. In addition to a detailed menu, he ensures that his servers are well-versed in the origins of the food to answer any questions.

Carolina Triggerfish with Heirloom Beans, Corn and Shrimp

For the Fish:

  • 4 (seven ounce) triggerfish fillets
  • Canola oil as needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Salt and cayenne pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 300 F. Add enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a medium saute pan. When oil is shimmering, season the fish with salt and cayenne pepper; add to pan one fillet at a time, cooking over high heat. The goal is to cook the fish until golden brown on one side and place on a baking sheet about 4 minutes; reserve. Repeat process with remaining 3 pieces of triggerfish. When all fish are seared on one side, cover with the butter and a little lemon juice; hold the fish on the countertop until you are ready to finish the dish.

For the Peas:

  • 1 cup heirloom beans, soaked in water and refrigerated overnight, drained the following day
  • 2 quarts stock (preferably pork, but chicken will work)
  • 1 medium onion, medium dice
  • 1 large carrot, medium dice
  • 2 celery stalks, medium dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • several twigs of thyme
  • ½ chopped jalapeño

To Cook the Peas:

In a large stockpot, bring the stock to a simmer and add all ingredients. Cook for 1 hour over low heat, partially covered. When beans are tender, season with salt.

To Finish

  • 6 ears of corn, removed from cob
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of scallions, finely chopped

After removing corn from the cob, take half of the corn and juice; reserving the other half of the corn. Take corn juice and place in a medium sized, non-reactive sauce pan; reduce on low heat. When corn juice becomes thickened, finish sauce by slowly stirring in unsalted butter; reserve.

In large, non-reactive sauté pan, combine cooked beans and corn. Be sure to include a small amount of the bean cooking liquid; warm thoroughly on medium heat. Finish with salt and pepper to taste and chives. To plate, place beans on a large plate, lay crispy triggerfish on top and lightly drizzle fish with corn sauce. Garnish with scallions. Serves four.