Cornmeal-Dusted Grouper with Herb Puree

Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards. Used with permission from the publisher.

Cornmeal-Dusted Grouper with Herb Puree, Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards. Used with permission from the publisher.

Southern food is one of the most beloved and delicious cuisines in America. And who better to give us the key elements of Southern cuisine than Sean Brock, the award-winning chef and Southern-food crusader. In South, Brock shares his recipes for key components of the cuisine, from grits and fried chicken to collard greens and cornbread.

RecipSean Brock Southes can be mixed and matched to make a meal or eaten on their own. Taken together, they make up the essential elements of Southern cuisine, from fried green tomatoes to smoked baby back ribs and from tomato okra stew to biscuits. Regional differences are highlighted in recipes for shrimp and grits, cornbread, fried chicken, and more. Includes key Southern knowledge too: how to fry, how to care for cast iron, how to cook over a hearth, and more.

This is the book fans of Sean Brock have been waiting for, and it’s the book Southern-food lovers the world over will use as their bible.


South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations is available at and Indigo.

Cornmeal-Dusted Grouper with Herb Puree

Serves 4

Dredging a pristine fillet of your favourite fish in seasoned high-quality cornmeal is a great way to give it a crispy texture without dealing with messy breading that can mask the flavour of the fish. As the cornmeal toasts and browns in the hot skillet, it gives off an aroma reminiscent of cornbread, which is never a bad thing. This herb puree is amazing with fish, but you can add it to almost any dish for a burst of bright, fresh flavour.


Herb Puree

Kosher salt

1 cup tightly packed mixed herb leaves, such as basil and parsley

¼ teaspoon grated garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil



1 cup fine white cornmeal, preferably Anson Mills

2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

2 teaspoons freshly ground white pepper, plus more for seasoning

Four 6-ounce skinless grouper fillets, about ¾ inch thick

2 tablespoons canola oil

Herbs and edible flowers, such as basil, fennel, and elderflower (optional)


For the herb puree: Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Make an ice bath with equal parts ice and water in a large bowl. Put the herb leaves in a large mesh strainer and submerge them in the boiling water until tender and bright green, about 30 seconds. Leaving them in the strainer, transfer the herbs to the ice bath and submerge until completely cold. Remove from the ice bath, shake off the excess water, and drain the leaves on paper towels. Reserve ¼ cup of the ice water.

Combine the herbs, garlic, and reserved ¼ cup water in a blender and blend on high until completely smooth, about 1 minute. With the blender running on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Blend in ½ teaspoon salt. Transfer to a container, cover, and set aside. (The herb puree can be made ahead. Tightly covered, it will keep for up to 1 day in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before using.)

For the grouper: Combine the cornmeal, salt, and white pepper in a large shallow bowl and mix well. Season the grouper fillets liberally with salt and white pepper. Dredge the fillets in the cornmeal, gently shaking off any excess, and put them on a large plate.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Heat the canola oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Place the fillets in the skillet skinned side up and sear them for 2 minutes, without moving them. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the fillets are golden brown on the first side, about 3 minutes. (Peek under a fillet to check.) Turn them over and continue to cook just until the flesh flakes when gently prodded with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the fillets to the prepared baking sheet to drain briefly.

To serve: Place a grouper fillet on each of four warm plates. Spoon the herb puree next to the fillets. Garnish with the herbs and flowers, if using.

Excerpted from South by Sean Brock (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Peter Frank Edwards. Used with permission from the publisher.

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