Beyond Shrimp & Grits, Make A Cajun Seafood & Grits Recipe - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Beyond Shrimp & Grits, Make A Cajun Seafood & Grits Recipe
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RECIPE: Beyond Shrimp & Grits, Make Cajun Seafood & Grits

January 22nd is National Southern Food Day, Southern Food Heritage Day is October 11th. On both days we turn to one of our favorite dishes from Charleston, South Carolina: Shrimp & Grits.

Why didn’t we ever think to make it a seafood medley: shrimp plus crab meat, fish, even scallops?

Leave it to a restaurateur, Ebony Austin of Nouveau Bar & Grill in Atlanta.

It’s a great idea, and she shares the recipe with us.

If you can’t have shellfish, just substitute cod or halibut in the recipe.

If you’re in the Atlanta area, there’s much more upon which to feast at Nouveau Bar & Grill. Take a bite of:

Buffalo Shrimp, Cajun Shrimp & Chicken, Chicken and Waffles, Deviled Eggs, Four Cheese Spinach Dip, Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy, Impossible Burger, Jerk Wings, Sticky Fried Ribs, Turkey Burger Sliders and Windy City Crab Cakes.

Plus, great sides and desserts.

Yes, please!

> The history of shrimp.

> A brief history of Shrimp & Grits is below.

> More ways to serve grits.

> The difference between grits and polenta.

You can purchase Cajun seasoning or make it from ingredients you already have in your pantry.

The Cajun seasoning recipe below is from Emeril Lagasse.

For a wine pairing, we suggest Sauvignon Blanc for a white wine, or Pinot Noir or Shiraz for a red wine.

Prep and cook time is 30-35 minutes.
Ingredients For 2 Servings

For The Stone Washed Grits

  • 1/2 cup of cooking white wine
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup grits
  • 4 tablespoons butter
    For The Shellfish Medley

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Half of green bell pepper, cut in thin strips
  • Half of red pepper, cut in thin strips
  • 1/2 of sweet onion, cut in thin strips
  • 1 cup of crab meat (substitute bay scallops), seasoned with Cajun seasoning
  • 6 large shrimp
  • 1 fresh salmon fillet, chopped
  • Cajun seasoning (buy or make)
  • 1 cup of homemade sauce (butter, pesto, tomato)
    For Emeril’s Cajun Seasoning

    Combine thoroughly:

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

    1. MAKE the grits. Pour two cups of water into a small pot and bring to a boil. When the water starts to boil, add the white wine, then the grits and salt.

    2. REDUCE the heat to low and cook for 18-20 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes. (Stirring is is important so the grits don’t get lumpy. Once lumpy, it’s hard to get the texture back.)

    3. SEASON the salmon to your liking (e.g. salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, lemon and butter).

    4. COOK the vegetables and seafood. Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Once hot, place the green pepper, red pepper and onion in the skillet and let cook for two minutes.

    5. PLACE the salmon in the skillet with the peppers and onions. Add the crab meat to the skillet for 1 minute.

    6. ADD the shrimp to the skillet and for 2 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

    7. ASSEMBLE. Place the grits inside the Martini glass and top with the seafood medley. Garnish with the sauce, fresh parsley and more Cajun seasoning as desired.


    [1] Glamorous seafood and grits from Nouveau Bar & Grill (photo © Nouveau Bar & Grill | Atlanta).

    [2] A typical (less glam!) presentation of Shrimp & Grits (photo © Mackenzie Ltd)

    [3] Yellow grits from Anson Mills—the best grits we’ve ever had (photos #3 and #4 © Anson Mills).

    [4] White grits are milder-tasting. The yellow variety has a stronger taste and a gentle hint of sweetness.

    [5] Jumbo lump crabmeat is the most expensive type of crabmeat. Here are alternatives (photo © Phillips Foods).


    A classic Southern dish, Shrimp & Grits, shrimp atop a creamy bed of grits, can be traced back to Low Country cuisine, particularly in South Carolina and Georgia.

    Similar to polenta, grits are a rich and creamy ground corn porridge first prepared by Native Americans in the 1500s. It was a staple in the Southern diet for centuries.

    The addition of shrimp in the dish is thought to have been influenced by African, Caribbean, and Native American culinary traditions.

    Charleston, South Carolina may be its birthplace. The recipe first appeared in print in 1950 as a breakfast recipe in the Charleston Receipts cookbook, published by the Charleston Junior League (and the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print). You can buy a copy of the 1950 edition.

    By 1976, the dish was so popular that the legislature of South Carolina declared Shrimp & Grits to be the official state food [source].

    In the late 20th century, Shrimp & Grits gained popularity beyond its regional roots and became a signature dish across Southern cuisine. A new generation of chefs began to develop different variations, adding ingredients like bacon, cheese, and various seasonings. Numerous regional variations evolved: the addition of Cajun spices, rich gravies, and fire-roasted vegetables.

    (Editor’s note: We’ve added grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and on other occasions, dried cranberries and cashews.)

    But the essence of the dish remains the same. Finely-ground corn grits are boiled in milk and butter until thick and creamy, then topped with quick-seared coastal shrimp.

    While this delightful combination originated as a breakfast dish, it’s become a popular option for lunch and dinner as well.

    While Shrimp & Grits remains a symbol of Southern comfort food, it’s easy enough to prepare it at home—and put your own regional and personal stamps on the dish.

    There is no National Shrimp & Grits Day as of yet, but May 10th is National Shrimp Day and October is National Seafood Month.

    Perhaps the South Carolina Legislature would pass a proclamation giving Shrimp & Grits national holiday status?

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