One of my favorite dishes in Charleston, SC is the Seafood a la Wando at Hank’s Seafood. I have had it many times and it never ceases to amaze. It is very rich, put the acidity of the sherry and the freshness of the seafood somehow balance the cream and butter. The crunch from the fried grit cake and the…well, I said all this in my previous post.
I wanted to make it. Maybe I should not have. This was a very time consuming meal to make. My lack of planning skills coupled with my lack of meal prep skills combined into an overall average meal. Check that, it was fine but with notable flaws. The sauce that should have had time to reduced more and thicken up. Also, to live up to Hank’s, I should’ve used a lot more butter. The shrimp and fish were cooked to early and as a result were not warm when the dish came together. I tried to sauté the crab at the last minute to warm it up and I think I dried it out a bit. The grit cake was kept warm in the oven to long and ended up browned and more dried out than I would’ve preferred. For the purposes of the picture above, I forgot to add the mushrooms which were also cold. It didn’t suck, but it was not Seafood a la Wando that’s for sure. I don’t mean to seem so negative, the dish was good I was dispointed because it could’ve/should’ve been great.
I’ll try this again sometime and post the results. The directions below are not what I did, rather what I should have done.
- Haddock or other firm white fish (1-2 fillets depending on size)
- Shrimp (I used fresh SC caught)
- Jumbo lump crab
- 3 green onions sliced thin
- Cremini (baby portabella) mushrooms (quartered or halved depending on their size)
- Red bell pepper diced
- Grit cakes follow jump for recipe (replace polenta with grits here or here)
- Sherry wine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon minced shallots
- 2 cups shell fish stock
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- For the sauce, heat in a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt a tablespoon of butter. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Whisky in ½ cup of sherry wine, bring to a boil, decrease the heat and continue to cook until the wine has reduced to 1 tablespoon. Add the shellfish stock and the saffron, and reduce the liquid by one-half. Add the cream and reduce by one-half or until the sauce is thick. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into another saucepan. Stir, set aside (preferably in a thermos) and keep warm.
- Prepare the grit cakes per one of these recipes (replacing the polenta with the grits). Place in oven to keep warm.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of butter. Season the fish and cook until cooked half through. Flip the fish and add the shrimp. When the fish is cooked through and the shrimp are almost done, add a tablespoon or two of sherry to deglaze the pan. Turn the heat off and add the crab. Toss once.
- At the same time in a separate sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.
- To assemble, pour the cream sauce on the bottom, add fish, shrimp, crab and mushrooms. Stack a grit cake and top with your best looking shrimp. Garnish with green onion and bell pepper. Enjoy.