A Fish By Any Other Name

For 21 years, food critics from across Hampton Roads have sampled plate after plate of tempting dishes at the March of Dimes Signature Chef Auction. This year’s event was held Oct. 12 at The Founders Inn and Spa in Virginia Beach.

As tempting as all the dishes were, only one earned the title of The Dish of Coastal Virginia. This year that went to Pan Roasted Sheepshead, Sautéed Collard Greens, and Warm Tomato, Arugula and Crab Salad from Executive Chef Peter Stine of Steinhilber’s Restaurant.

Sheepshead fish, caught in Virginia, was pan-roasted and turned out moist, tender and flaky. The white flesh was firm and flavorful and accented gorgeously with the earthy minerality found in the fresh sautéed collard greens spiked with garlic and butter served with it. A warm salad with richly flavored tomatoes right from the garden outside Steinhilber’s restaurant, peppery arugula, and sweet jumbo lump blue crab meat provided a wonderful accompaniment.

The plate was not only delicious—it met the exacting criteria to be awarded The Dish of Coastal Virginia. The rules say it must be “a dish that captures the unique regional flavor of Coastal Virginia through ingredients, preparation and/or imagination.”

The clean plates in the judge’s room and the grand ballroom where the public tasting took place confirmed its enjoyment.

“People really liked it,” says Stine. “There were some people confused at first by the name ‘sheepshead,’ but when they realized it was a fish and not an actual sheep’s head they ate it and were very surprised by the flavor and how good it was. It’s a really great fish.”

And using fish caught fresh off the Virginia coast was important as well, as was the sourcing of other regional components.

“It is important to use local ingredients,” says Stine. “There are so many great local food stuffs here. [There is] the Chesapeake Bay ... but there are a ton of great farms in Virginia, and a lot of great ways to get local products.

Using ingredients that grow in your backyard helps promote local businesses; it supports the local economy. And it really has great flavor. I think that it is awesome to be able to support our local farmers; it’s something we do all the time at our restaurant.”

Read more in the January 2015 issue of Coastal Virginia Magazine

Get a recipe for Pan-Roasted Sheepshead Fish from Executive Chef Peter Stine.

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