She-crab soup is a mainstay of the Charleston, South Carolina, dining scene. The Gullah matriarch Emily Meggett included a recipe for the dish in her outstanding new cookbook, Gullah Geechee Homecooking, (and shared it here), and plenty of area restaurants serve their takes on the classic—a savory, creamy stew that’s usually topped with crab roe and a splash of sherry.
When the owners behind the shiny new fish camp Islander 71, perched above the Intracoastal Waterway on Isle of Palms, South Carolina, were playing around in the restaurant’s kitchen before opening, they stumbled upon what they now consider their menu’s gold star.
“We’d figured out our she-crab soup recipe,” says co-owner Dave Lorenz. “And we also had these nice and crispy seasoned fries, and we’re hanging out in the kitchen and one thing led to another and we’re like, let’s dump this on top of that, and it was just like…this is amazing.”
The seasoned fries draw on Lorenz’s memories of growing up in Maryland. “I remember visiting the boardwalk near Rehoboth Beach, or along the Chesapeake, and you’d get these fries—really salty with a little spice, a little sweet in the seasoning. That’s how we make them here, too.” He says everything about Islander 71 is meant to throw back to a 1970s fish-camp feel.
“The soup itself is very Lowcountry driven, very much your classic she-crab,” he says. “So the creamy richness of the soup over those crave-able salty fries, it’s turned out to be a crowd favorite. Big tables will order two or three and you can tell when people have had it—they’re like, ‘Oh, here’s the fries! Here’s the fries!’”
Although he generously shared the soup recipe, he won’t give away all his French fry secrets, but using your favorite seasoning salt—and a pinch of sugar—will make this recipe “extra crave-able.”