Jason Stanhope’s culinary career was kick-started in Peru.
At the time, he was a student at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, and moved to Cuzco to complete his externship at the Hotel Monasterio. When the fish cook, Angel, fell sick, Stanhope had to step in. “I was this young white kid who spoke no Spanish,” he recalls. “But when you get pushed in, you sink or swim.” Stanhope swam.
The Kansas native returned to the States and took a job at the now-shuttered Forty Sardines in Kansas City, Kansas, where he worked for three years before heading east. There, he chose a job at Fig in Charleston, South Carolina, over a position at No. 9 Park in Boston. “I got to Charleston and the weather was beautiful and there were pretty girls everywhere,” he says. “Charleston has such character, such an identity. It’s a blue dot in a red state.”
For Sous Chef Series, Stanhope made his version of a Lowcountry boil, a coastal South Carolina classic loaded with local seafood and summer vegetables. “You can do any combination of ingredients,” says Stanhope. “It’s about getting people together, having beers, getting shellfish juice on your face.”
Recipe adapted from Jason Stanhope, Fig, Charleston, SC
Yield: Serves 4
Cook Time: 55 minutes
4 quarts (16 cups) water
¼ cup Old Bay seasoning
½ cup kosher salt
4 dried bay leaves
4 fresh thyme sprigs
3 heads of garlic, halved crosswise (through the middle) to expose the cloves
1 pound jumbo 16/20-count peel-on shrimp
8 golf-ball-size red potatoes
10 littleneck clams, scrubbed
10 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced lengthwise into 8 wedges
2 medium zucchini, sliced crosswise into ½-inch-thick pieces
2 links andouille sausage, sliced on a bias into ¾-inch-thick pieces
1 pound stone crab claws or legs
1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 oil-packed anchovies, finely chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 baguette, sliced on a bias into ¾-inch-thick pieces
3 lemons, sliced into wedges
1. Make the poaching liquid: In a large pot set over high heat, bring to a boil the water, Old Bay seasoning, salt, bay leaves, thyme and halved garlic heads. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. While the broth simmers, make the salsa verde: Use a small food processor (or the small bowl attachment of a standard-size food processor) to purée the parsley, anchovies, capers, mustard, garlic and lemon juice. With the machine running, add the olive oil until the mixture is thick and emulsified. Season with salt to taste.
3. Use a paring knife to make a shallow slit down the curved back of the shrimp, removing the vein (if there is one) and leaving the shell intact. Place the shrimp in a bowl and refrigerate.
4. Add the potatoes to the broth and cook until nearly tender (a paring knife will easily slide into the outer edge but not all the way to the center), about 10 minutes. Add the clams, mussels and fennel, simmer until a paring knife easily slides into the fennel, about 5 minutes, then add the shrimp and zucchini. Cook until the zucchini starts to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the andouille and crab and cook for 4 minutes.
5. Divide the boil into four shallow bowls. Drizzle the salsa verde over the baguette slices and place a slice or two in each bowl. Serve with lemon wedges.