28 Days of Soul: Curried Shrimp Cakes and Parmesan Tomato Grits

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This month Geo Table's presents "28 Days of Soul" a celebration of black history and community through cuisine. Today, I am happy to present to you the first of a weekly segment  called the "Evolution of the Black Kitchen."  In this segment, I will present a modern or innovative twist on classic soul food dishes.

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This week's dish was inspired by a few recipes in The Black Family Reunion Cookbook. The Black Family Reunion Cookbook celebrates African American cuisine from across the United States and contains almost 250 recipes.

This cookbook was a staple in my grandmother's (and many of my friends' grandmothers) homes. If you are truly interested in learning about African American cuisine, it is definitely worth the buy.

If ever forced to select my FAVORITE brunch dish, then Shrimp and Grits would top the list. Although this delectable combination was rose to fame in the early 1980s, it's origins began much earlier in a part of the United States affectionately known as the  "Grit Belt" ( the Carolinas to Louisiana). The dish was commonplace among fisherman who lacked a diversity of food options, and the meal was typically eaten for breakfast due to it being hearty and filling. It was often served with scraps of bacon.

For a full history on Shrimp and Grits, this is an article worth reading. 

Today, the dish has been modernized in a number of ways and can be found on countless menus across every corner of the United States. In creating my "personal take" I decided to step out of the box to  give my dish an more worldly flare. Relying on curry powder, diced vegetables, chopped shrimp and panko to fry the shrimp in a way this is unconventional for this dish.  I then paired them with a  tomato based grit topped with parmesan cheese.  This turned out much better than expected and this version will make regular appearances at my dining room table.

The recipe can be found below:

CURRied SHRIMP CAKES AND PARMESAN TOMATO GRITS

For the Curry Shrimp Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp ( peeled, deveined )
  • ·1 large egg
  •  1 small red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •  1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  Pinch of ground black pepper
  •  2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)  
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) canola or vegetable oil

1.      Chop shrimp in the food processor. Place in a bowl with egg, red onion, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, curry powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.  Add 1 cup panko and mix well. Form mixture into 10-12 (approximately 3-inch-diameter) cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  (Note: These can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before making).

2.     Heat 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 6 minutes

For the Grits

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup coarse grits
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Add water, milk, butter and marinara to a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Once liquid is simmering, whisk in grits in a slow stream. Whisk constantly to make sure the grits don’t clump together.
  2. Whisk mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens substantially. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. 
  3. Place in bowl, and top with parmesan cheese. 

I hope you enjoy!