Pan-Seared Local Fish with Corn Chowder and Fried Okra

Inspired by summer veggies at farmers’ markets, the executive chef at Charleston’s Prohibition shares his recipe for plating up the catch of the day

Photo: Andrew Cebulka

A nod to the classic speakeasy of the 1920s, Charleston’s Prohibition is well known for its inventive cocktails and vintage decor. But the extensive menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner are anything but old-fashioned. The lineup features Southern favorites like heirloom tomato sandwiches and crispy Brussels sprouts but also more elevated coastal fare such as shrimp and grits with red curry butter, and raw oysters paired with pickleback mignonette and house-fermented hot sauce.

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In a dish that falls into both categories, executive chef Greg Garrison serves the local catch over corn chowder, accompanied by fresh corn, tiny potatoes, pancetta, and fried okra and topped with a sprinkling of fresh dill. The creamy yet light chowder is inspired by Garrison’s northern upbringing but given a Southern spin through the bounty of local corn. It’s a perfect summer dish made from ingredients easily found at local farmers’ markets.

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  • Pan-Seared Local Fish with Corn Chowder and Fried Okra (Yield: 6 servings)

  • For the fish

    • 6 each 6-oz. pieces of favorite local fish, skin removed

    • 3 tbsp. oil (vegetable, canola, or peanut)

    • Salt and pepper to taste

  • For the corn chowder

    • 10 ears yellow corn, shucked, kernels cut off cob, cobs reserved

    • 3 quarts water

    • ½ large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced

    • 2½ garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

    • ½ cup leeks, thinly sliced (use the white part, not green tops)

    • 2 cups vegetable stock

    • ½ cup cream

    • ½ cups cream sherry

    • 2 tbsp. salt

    • ½ tbsp. Worcestershire

  • For the potatoes

    • 1 lb. red potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces

    • 1 cup salt

  • For the pancetta

    • ½ lb. pancetta, diced into ¼-inch pieces

  • For the corn

    • 6 ears corn, kernels cut off the cob

    • 1 tbsp. oil (vegetable, soybean, or avocado)

  • For the fried okra

    • ½ lb. fresh okra, rinsed and cut into 1-inch pieces

    • 1 cup flour

    • 3 eggs

    • 2 cups bread crumbs

    • 1 tsp. salt

    • ½ tsp. pepper

    • 2 quarts oil (vegetable, canola, or peanut)

  • For garnish

    • A few sprigs of fresh dill


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. Make the corn chowder: In a large stock pot, add 3 quarts cold water and corn cobs. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook for 20 minutes, then strain and reserve the corn stock liquid. In a large pot, sweat the onion, leeks, and garlic until soft and translucent. Add the corn kernels, corn stock, and vegetable stock. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Turn heat to low and add the cream, cream sherry, salt, and Worcestershire. Stir well. Working in batches, add chowder to a blender and blend on high until the chowder is very smooth. Return to a clean pot and heat to serve.

  4. Make the potatoes: In a large stock pot, add potatoes and enough cold water to cover. Add the salt to the pot and bring the water to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender (will vary depending on variety of potato and size). Strain the potatoes and set aside until ready to plate.

  5. Cook the pancetta: Put the diced pancetta into a frying pan and cover with 2 cups of cold water.

  6. Turn the pan on medium heat and allow to cook until all the water has evaporated. Once the water is gone, stir the pancetta frequently for 5 minutes. Turn the burner off and using a slotted spoon, scoop the cooked pancetta out of the pan, leaving the grease behind. Drain in a single layer on a paper towel set on top of a plate until ready to plate.

  7. Cook the corn: Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add oil. Once the oil is hot, carefully put the corn kernels into the pan and allow to cook until lightly browned. Remove the corn from the pan and set aside until ready to plate.

  8. Cook the fish: Season the fish with salt and pepper to taste. In an oven-friendly pan or skillet, heat the oil. Add fish and sear until light brown on both sides. Remove from heat and add to the oven until the fish is cooked and tender.

  9. Fry the okra: In a heavy-bottomed pot, add oil and heat over medium high until it reaches 350°F. In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Crack eggs into another bowl and whisk well. In a third bowl, add bread crumbs. Add the okra pieces to the flour mixture and coat well. Dip the flour-coated okra into the egg and coat well. Using a fork, move the okra to the bread crumbs and make sure each piece is well coated. Working in batches, gently lower the breaded okra into the oil and allow each piece to fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Using a slotted utensil, remove the okra from the oil and drain on a rack or on a towel.

  10. Assemble the dish: In a shallow bowl, fill the bottom with warm corn chowder. Add a pile of fried okra, pancetta, corn kernels, and potatoes. Add fish over the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with desired amount of fresh dill. Serve immediately.