The Base of Good Charleston Cooking

We’ll cut right to the chase: quality ingredients. As a local chef once remarked during a cooking class, “I don’t know any chef who can make a bad tomato taste good. Start with fresh, quality ingredients. That goes for all cooking, not just southern and not just Charleston southern. But we wanted to take this further.

One of our favorite places to eat is the Brown Dog Deli on Broad St, though there is another locations on Calhoun, but alas, they don’t offer this dish. They have a Grateful Duck Club sandwich that is my lifetime favorite sandie of all time. Every last ingredient is fresh. They make everything fresh and it tastes fresh as a result.

As you may know, a lot of Charleston cooking is seafood based. We are, after all, by the ocean. However, no all the foods we serve are local. We suffer just as much as any other place that even the local seafood we can produce and fish for is shipped away. Ask Maryland citizens where blue crab comes from, and they will say “right here”. While that’s true, and you can go to the shore with a hook and a line and do just that, however, the majority of the blue crab served at restaurants in the Del-Mar-Va area come from China and Texas. I won’t belabor this point, except to say that gone are the days that you can go down to the local seafood market and get something fresh off the boat. It does happen. Some. But not all.

And because of this, we as either local restaurant owners or just home cooks, need to be able to get high quality ingredients–and specifically seafood–in order to make our dishes good. So how can we do this? We have found three resources we want to tell you about.

#1. Quality Seafood Delivery

We actually just searched on that term and this lovely little site popped up. They not only have a big list of companies who ship from dock to door, but they also compare them side-by-side by seafood type, size, and species. It is a pretty handy site. Today, they are only comparing fresh live lobster, wild salmon, and crawfish.

#2. Lummi Island Wild

Lummi Island Wild is a company we had heard about a few years ago through a Patagonia Provisions video, found here. They are also listed on the Quality Seafod Delivery site, and we were like, oh yeah. THOSE guys. They do some amazing work, fishing for salmon sustainably in the San Juans and working with local tribes to catch only as much as they need. They have Baker King Wild Salmon, Smoked Salmon, plus a handful of other seafood types, such as tuna, halibut, black cod, dungeness crab and the like. This is one place to get fresh seafood ingredients and know it’s being done just as smartly as possible.

#3. Fish Choice

We found this company doing our own research. We don’t know why they exist, but we are glad they do. Plus we did some work for you. Go to this link. That is their directory of fisheries who have an online retail option. It is not comprehensive, as we found plenty who weren’t listed, but they have 54 listed here. Use the “distribution region” to make sure they ship to where you are. If you click into a listing, you will see what they offer.