With Southern-style joints popping up all over the country, it's high time for Lowcountry cooking. What makes The Macintosh, a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina, a standout from the growing crowd is the way it eschews Southern clichés. Chef Jeremiah Bacon, who worked under Eric Ripert and Thomas Keller after receiving a degree in philosophy, is reluctant to over-season or over-smoke. He wants the main ingredients to shine through, and most of the time, that means taking a cautious approach to seafood.

"I grew up fishing in the Lowcountry waterways, and that's what initially made me interested in cooking," Bacon says. "I'd return home with red drum, fresh shrimp, or live blue crabs, and my mom would teach me how to cook them at home."

Bacon still heeds the advice he received from his mother, who prepared fish with little more than salt, pepper, and olive oil. This minimalism makes the fish the star, so Bacon is careful about sourcing freshly caught swordfish, trigger fish, or cobia. He's knows fishermen, and he recommends that anyone who cares about seafood make friends with a fishmonger.

Once the fish is in hand, Bacon is cautious not to overcook it. "Make sure the grill is very hot for the initial sear, and that the grill has been prepped with oil, so that the fillet doesn't stick," he says. For the meal that made his name in Charleston – grilled trigger fish – he focuses on the broth, using whey-dashi, which he says adds "depth of flavor."

After that, it's all about choosing sides. Bacon is something of a classicist on that front. He prefers local beans, mushrooms, sunchokes, and Anson Mill's farro, which was originally grown on Lowcountry rice plantations. Whatever you choose, he says, just ensure that it's local, and if you happen to be in the Lowcountry, well, you're in luck.

The Macintosh Grilled Trigger Fish with Whey Dashi, Butterbeans, Sunchokes, and Puffed Farro 
(Serves 2)

Whey

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon whole milk
  • 2/3 cup champagne vinegar

Preparation

Step One
Scald 1 gallon of whole milk; add 2/3 cup of champagne vinegar over medium heat. Strain solids, and reserve the remaining whey liquid.

Whey Dashi

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whey
  • 1/2 sheet (3 inches x 4 inches) kombu
  • 1/2 orange rind
  • 2 tbsp dashi
  • 1 cherry bomb pepper, cut in half
  • 3 tbsp ponzu
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Hot sauce, to taste

Preparation

Step One
In a saucepan over medium heat, simmer whey with kombu, orange rind, dashi, and the cherry bomb pepper for 30 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and season to taste. Keep the liquid warm until ready to serve.

Confit Sunchoke

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs sunchokes, chopped
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

Step One
Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Step Two
Place chopped sunchokes in a 3-inch-deep pan, and cover with enough olive oil so they're completely submerged. Add salt, white pepper, and bay leaf. Cook for 2–3 hours, or until tender.

Step Three
Remove the pan from the oven and allow sunchokes to come to room temperature. Remove them from the confit mixture.

Butterbeans

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butterbeans
  • Salt

Preparation

Step One
In a pot of boiling, salted water, blanch the butterbeans for 1 minute and then shock them in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Drain the butterbeans and reserve.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation

Step One
In a 350°F oven, roast the shiitake mushrooms with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme sprigs for 20 minutes.

Puffed Farro

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Anson Mill's farro
  • Approximately 4 cups chicken stock, as needed
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation

Step One
In a pot over medium-high heat, sweat farro in olive oil. Cover with stock, season with salt and pepper, and bring the farro and the chicken stock to a simmer. Allow the liquid to simmer uncovered until the farro is cooked and the stock is absorbed, about 45 minutes. Add stock as needed.

Step Two
Let farro dehydrate overnight in the oven. Preheat oven to 200°F. Spread farro out on a frying pan. Fry at 350°F until puffed. Keep warm in oven, if necessary until soup is served.

Grilled Fish

Ingredients

  • Two 6-ounce trigger fish, cobia, or swordfish fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed

Preparation

Step One
Season the filets with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over filets.

Step Two
Over a hot grill (about 400°F), place filets and cook on both sides until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow filets to rest for 2 minutes.

Step Three
In a sauté pan over medium heat, sauté butterbeans mushrooms and sunchokes in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add fresh lemon juice, hot sauce, herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Finish with butter and serve with grilled fish.

To Serve
Serve with whey dashi broth and vegetables, topped with farro. Sprinkle with cress sprouts and the small petals of edible flowers for a pop of bright color.