Local chefs share fresh crab, shrimp and fish recipes for spring

In the mood for seafood?

Story By Bailey Gilliam

We get to enjoy seafood year-round here in the Lowcountry, so it’s always the perfect time to try some new seafood recipes. As you and your out-of-town guests enjoy fishing, sunbathing and boating, enjoy some delicious cuisine to go along with your activities with these recipes from local chefs and restaurants.

Get crabby

Crabs are a staple on the coast, and what better way to enjoy them than a luxurious soup? This recipe from chef Charles Pejeau is the perfect celebration of crab and can be made in advance. Just reheat and enjoy. 

 Alexander’s Restaurant 

Lowcountry Crab Soup

Ingredients (soup base)

1 cup largely diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup diced yellow onion

1 pound crab base

2 tablespoons clam base

1/4 pound unsalted butter, cubed

1 quart sherry

1 tablespoon Frank’s Hot Sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons Paul Prudhomme blackening seasoning

2 cups all-purpose flour


[1] Melt the butter in a large saucepot over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, celery and onion. Cook until carrots are cooked through. Stir in the base, blackening seasoning, hot sauce, sherry and lemon juice. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
[2] With a stick blender, process the mixture. Process until well incorporated, still leaving tiny bits of carrot. [3] Whisk in flour until well incorporated. Transfer to hotel pans to cool properly. Once cooled down, transfer to a container; date, label and store in the refrigerator.

Ingredients (soup finish)

2 quarts heavy cream

2 quarts whole milk

Soup base

Salt and pepper to taste

Sherry to taste

Lemon to taste


[1] Add heavy cream and whole milk to a large saucepot. Over medium-high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. [2] Once dairy has come to a boil, quickly remove from heat and whisk in the soup base. Return to the stove on low heat and frequently whisk to prevent burning. [3] Once the soup has thickened, season to taste with salt, pepper, sherry and lemon.

Time to regroup

SERG Group tasked their chefs and sous chefs who create delectable dishes in multiple categories to compete in a LOCAL Life contest. The objective is to expand the chefs’ horizons and capabilities while getting them some face time in the local community. The winner of the seafood-inspired category is sous chef Jesusmanuel Rivera of Poseidon. 


Caribbean Grouper

Ingredients (plantain sauce)

2 green plantains

2 tablespoons sofrito (garlic, onions, peppers)

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons salt

1 bunch of cilantro

2 tablespoons chicken stock


[1] Heat the oil in a pot and start cooking the sofrito. [2] Add water. Once boiling, add the peeled and cut plantains. Lower the heat to medium-high or simmering, and add the cilantro and chicken stock. [3] Once your plantain is tender, strain the plantain and put it in a blender. Add the cooking liquid little by little until the sauce is thick. [4] Put it back in the pot and reduce until you have a perfect consistency—salt and pepper to taste.

Ingredients (black risotto)

2 cups of Arborio rice

2 chopped shallots

4 ounces chopped calamari

1 cup white wine

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon squid ink

1 quart of vegetable stock


[1] Combine the broth with 4 cups of water and a teaspoon of kosher salt in a saucepan and bring it to a low simmer. Reduce heat to low. [2] Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet until the butter is melted. Add the minced shallots and cook for about 1 minute until tender. Add the garlic and dry rice and cook, occasionally stirring, for about 2 minutes until the rice turns light brown. [3] Stir in the wine and cook, occasionally stirring, for about 2 minutes until the liquid is fully absorbed. [4] Add two ladles of hot broth to the risotto. Cook, occasionally stirring until the liquid is fully absorbed, then add two more ladles of both. Cook in this same manner for about 12 minutes, adding two ladles and stirring frequently. Adjust the heat to ensure the risotto is at a steady simmer. [5] When the rice is al dente and creamy, reduce the heat to low. Add two more ladles of broth, parmesan cheese, chopped calamari and squid ink. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes until you’ve got a thick and creamy risotto. Taste and add more salt if desired.

Ingredients (fish)

4 grouper fillets 

2 tablespoons oil

Salt and pepper, to taste


[1] Salt and pepper the fillets. [2] In a sauté pan, heat oil and pan-sear fish for 5 minutes on each side.

Ingredients (Annatto oil)

1/3 cup oil

2 tablespoons annatto seeds

1 garlic clove, crushed


1] Heat the oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Once hot, add the annatto seeds and fry for 2-3 minutes or until the oil turns orange. Keep an eye on the seeds so they don’t burn. [2] Once the oil has turned orange, remove from heat and add the crushed garlic. Let it cool for 15 minutes. [3] Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain the oil and discard the seeds and garlic. Transfer the oil to a clean glass jar. 

Ingredients (Arugula Insalata)

2 ounces arugula

2 ounces red bell pepper

1 ounce shaved radishes

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste


[1] Mix arugula, peppers, radishes and olive oil in a small bowl. [2] Garnish your dish with the salad. 

Fritter it away

Nothing says the South like a fritter. Add shrimp and you’ve captured the essence of the Lowcountry. This recipe from chef Josh Castillo will satisfy your craving for fried seafood without having to leave the house. 

close up of fried corn fritter or in Indonesia called Perkedel Jagung or Bakwan Jagung with shrimp inside isolated on white background

 Charlie’s Coastal Bistro 

Shrimp and Corn Fritters


1/4 cup green bell peppers, diced

1/4 cup red bell peppers, diced

1 stalk whole celery, diced

1/4 cup large yellow onion, diced

1 yellow corn cob, roasted and off the cob

1/2 pound shrimp (80% cooked, cooled and chopped)

3 eggs

4 cups milk

1 teaspoon blackening seasoning

1 teaspoon Old Bay

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper mix

2 teaspoons zest of lemon

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 tablespoon baking soda

4 cups flour


[1] Sauté peppers, celery and onion with 1 tablespoon of oil, salt and pepper in a sauté pan. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. [2] In a 350-degree oven, roast the corn (whole) on a sheet pan with oil, salt and pepper. Allow to cool, and cut off the cob. [3] In a separate bowl, whisk together baking soda, baking powder and flour. Set aside. [4] After the veggies have cooled slightly, whisk in eggs and seasonings. Add milk. Then add dry ingredients. Add the chopped shrimp and corn to the mixture. [5] For best results, pan fry in a large pan until light brown on both sides. Place on a paper towel to cool. 

Just for the halibut

Classics are classics for a reason. Turn time back, and try this halibut in saor recipe from Michael Anthony’s. Saor is a traditional Italian food preparation technique originating from Venice. The word means flavor in the Venetian dialect, and in the past it was used as a preservation technique by sailors during their long sea trips. Saor consists of onions (with pine nuts and raisins, although originally not a part of the technique) cooked in oil, vinegar and white wine. 

 Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana 

Halibut in “Saor”

Ingredients (Beurre blanc)

1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons very finely minced shallots

4 ounces cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

Salt and pepper, to taste


[1] Place wine, lemon juice, cream and shallots in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until liquid is reduced by about 75 percent, 4 to 5 minutes. [2] Reduce heat to the lowest setting and whisk in 2 cubes of butter. Keep the butter moving until it completely melts. Add a few more cubes, whisking continuously so the butter emulsifies into a wine-lemon juice mixture. Continue to add remaining butter, a few cubes at a time, until the sauce has a thick, luxurious texture, 4 to 6 minutes. [3] Remove the saucepan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. 

Ingredients (halibut)

4 six-ounce portions of halibut

1/2 cup grapeseed oil

3 cups peeled and thinly sliced sweet onions

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

Flour, for dusting

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1/4 cup golden raisins


[1] In a large sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until onions are translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. [2] Deglaze the pan with white wine vinegar. Add the sugar and sauté onions for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside. [3] Preheat the oven to 400. In a large sauté pan, heat 1/4 cup grapeseed oil. Lightly dust the halibut with flour and sauté on both sides until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper. [4] Remove from heat and place pan in oven. Cook approximately 6 to 8 minutes. [5] Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and toss constantly for about 2 minutes or until they are golden brown. Add the raisins and sauté another 2 minutes. Set aside. [6] Remove fish from oven. On four serving plates, place the sauteed onions and top with the halibut. Spoon the beurre blanc sauce around the fish and garnish with a sprinkle of the pine nut and raisin mixture.

Give a man a fish

Back off, salmon; it’s time to add a new fish to your routine. Swordfish is a tender, flavor-packed fish that deserves more attention. Impress your guests with this easy swordfish recipe from Cassandra Schultz. It will taste like you spent way more time on it than you did. 

 Cassandra’s Kitchen Store 

Ina Garten’s Swordfish with Tomatoes and Capers


1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)

1 cup chopped fennel (1 bulb)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon minced garlic

28 ounces canned plum tomatoes, drained

1 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chicken stock

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 (1-inch-thick) swordfish fillets (about 2 1/2 pounds)

Fresh basil leaves


[1] For the sauce, cook the onions and fennel in the oil in a large sauté pan on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the drained tomatoes, smashing them in the pan with a fork, plus the salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Add the chicken stock and white wine and simmer for 10 more minutes to reduce the liquid. Add the basil, capers, and butter and cook for 1 minute more. [2] Prepare a grill with hot coals. Brush the swordfish with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on high heat for 5 minutes on each side until the center is no longer raw. Do not overcook. Place the sauce on the bottom of a plate, arrange the swordfish on top, and garnish with basil leaves. Serve hot or at room temperature.

1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved 

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