STARS Restaurant – The Story behind our Pan Seared Rockfish
Chef Gregory James shares the STORY behind our Pan Seared Rock Fish served in the famed STARS restaurant.
Spring is upon us which means all kinds of fun flavors in the kitchen. Lots of green flavors, herbs, wild garlic, scapes, and asparagus.
Wittman Wharf, Maryland which is about 7 miles down the 33 is now a weigh station for wild-caught rockfish. These fish are pulled right out of the Miles River and brought to us fresh daily…it is as close from boat to table as you can get.
We pair them with some softshell clams that were pulled out of the Chesapeake Bay. I must admit, I had never heard of them before that day, but was ecstatic when I first tried them. Marc from Wittman wharf told me that when we was 18 he worked on a boat in Rock Hall that would catch 15 bushels a day by 9 am! Our softshell clams are coming from Hoopers Island and he is currently harvesting about 5 bushels a day. They are not nearly as abundant as they once were and are considered a delicacy by us on the Shore and the Chesapeake Bay. Marc also told me that his building used to shuck them and sell them on the boardwalk on Long Island. These clams usually spawn twice per year: once in late spring and once in mid- to late autumn.
The Rice we used was from Blue Moon Acres, while not considered part of Delmarva or the Eastern Shore, we love how close they are and the rice they grow. They have a variety of rice such as Martelli, Sushi, Black and Brown Heritage Rice. They are grown in the Korean Natural Farming Method. (KNF) which is a wholistic approach to agriculture involving regenerative processes and techniques designed to produce healthy, disease-free, high nutrient yield plants. KNF’s focus is entirely on providing conditions that optimize photosynthesis and absorption of nutrients at all stages of the plant’s growth. First and overwhelmingly primary among these conditions is the building and maintenance of a diverse soil microbiology. To that end, KNF espouses the use of farm- made specially cultured indigenous microorganisms (IMO) as well as many formulas to support the growth of healthy microbiology around the plant. Also, tillage, the mechanical turning of the soil, is minimized so that microbiology, especially fungi, can grow and prosper.
Lastly the Sauce of gently grilled lettuces is one of my favorites. I love the subtle smokiness, sweetness,and light bitterness it provides. It is light but full of flavor. It reminds me of my days at The Culinary Institute of America. The new students sat on the stage and we were served food that I could not of have dreamed up at my young age. Being from rural WI, a soup of lettuces was just unheard of. I knew one day I was going to do this at my restaurant, I just did not think it would be 20 years later. The greens for the sauce were harvested from Red Acres Farms out of Worton, MD. The 6th generation family farm was established in 1880 by George Thomas Williams. Over the years Red Acres has produced 5 generations of dairy Holstein cows, turkeys, grains, hay and straw. In 1994 Red Acres was designated as a “Century Farm” – owned and farmed by one family for at least 100 years. We love their story and love using their lettuces in our menus. Join us at the STARS restaurant to taste first hand what fresh farm to table food really tastes like Written by Chef Gregory James