Hoppin' John - one of the better-known Lowcountry recipes.
If you live in the United States, you’ve probably heard of Lowcountry recipes, although you might not be completely sure about what they are. Perhaps you’ve also seen the term presented as Low Country recipes. Lowcountry recipes are cooking techniques, ingredients, and traditions that originate in the Lowcountry. The Lowcountry is usually considered as the coastal area and small offshore islands of South Carolina, although many people also include the coast and sea islands of Georgia in the term. The name comes from the fact that this is a geographically low-lying area of flat plains, marshes, estuaries, and beaches.
Lowcountry cuisine has been strongly influenced by several different groups of people. Perhaps the most important came from the Gullah, African slaves who once worked the vast rice plantations. Other culinary influences came from the Caribbean, where slaves from Africa often spent time before entering the U.S. Huguenots from France also had an influence on Lowcountry cuisine. Of course, the foods available in the area helped to shape all these influences, creating a unique and wonderful cornucopia of Lowcountry recipes.
Obviously, the Lowcountry is rich in seafood. Lowcountry recipes often include finned fishes, crabs, shrimp, and oysters. As a nod to its history, the Lowcountry foods are also dominated by rice. Meat and fish dishes are often served over or with rice. Locally grown produce is important, also, including sweet potatoes, onions, bell peppers, greens, beans, legumes, squash, okra, tomatoes, and corn. The Gullah often raised their own pigs and chickens, so pork and poultry are important ingredients in Low Country recipes, too. You might also find Lowcountry recipes for cheap cuts of beef, including cow tongue, liver, and oxtail.
Some Lowcountry recipes that you might have heard of include shrimp and grits, Lowcountry boil, crab cakes, okra stew, hoppin’ John, roasted oysters, she-crab soup, braised oxtails, Frogmore stew, crab pie, Savannah red rice, Brunswick stew, rice pudding, purloo, fried cornbread, Huguenot torte, sweet potato pone, and seafood muddle.
If you get the chance to sample some Lowcountry recipes, by all means, take it! Even better, make your own, as I often do. My cooking heritage is rich in Lowcountry cuisine, as my grandmother, great-grandmother, great-great-grandmother, and great-great-great-grandmother all grew up in the Lowcountry. You’ll find several Gullah and Lowcountry recipes on this site, and more will be added.