Spicy chili crisp adds flavor and depth to this starter or main
Shrimp-and-grits is a classic dish from the southern US – and one we love. We also love Asian-style shrimp stir fried with chili sauce. So why not combine them?
This Asian-Style Shrimp and Grits would make a great starter, with piquant flavor that can wake up any taste bud. Or you could serve this dish as the main event. Because it’s so tasty that a starter portion might not be enough to satisfy you.
And it’s good to be satisfied.
Recipe: Asian-Style Shrimp and Grits
We use chili crisp in this dish. That’s an ingredient we also used in our recipe for Roast Grapes and Chili Crisp Dip (or Spread). Chili crisp is spicy with a bit of a crunch (hence the “crisp”). Its flavor resembles that of Asian chili sauce, but with more depth and a bit less heat.
No chili crisp on hand? Just substitute any Asian chili sauce. We’d vote for chili garlic sauce. But in a pinch, even sriracha would work. Just adjust the amount you use to your tolerance for spicy hot.
For this dish, we use quick grits, which cook in 5 to 10 minutes. Regular grits (particularly stone-ground) take longer to cook; their flavor, particularly the stone-ground, is a bit better, but not enough to be a factor in this dish. Avoid instant grits – they just aren’t very good.
Prep time for this dish is about 20 minutes, cooking time a bit less. So you can have this on your plate, start-to-finish, in no more than 40 minutes.
This recipe yields 4 appetizer-sized servings or 2 main-course servings.
- 8 ounces de-veined, shelled shrimp (frozen or not; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon dry sherry
- salt to taste for marinating the shrimp (a few pinches of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 cups water (for cooking the grits)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt for seasoning the grits (see Notes)
- ½ cup quick-cooking grits (not instant; see headnote)
- 1 red bell pepper, cleaned and cut into 1-inch dice
- 1 bunch of scallions, cleaned and chopped into short pieces (see Notes)
- ~1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ~½ inch piece of peeled ginger, minced finely
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chili crisp (to taste; we often use a touch more)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 additional tablespoon dry sherry
- ¾ cup chicken stock (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon corn starch mixed with 2 tablespoons of cold water (optional)
- garnish of green scallion rounds (optional)
- Begin by marinating the shrimp: Place the shrimp (thawed beforehand if using frozen) in a small bowl, then add 1 tablespoon sherry and salt to taste. Marinate the shrimp for at least 5 minutes (up to 15) while you prep the veggies.
- When ready to cook the shrimp: Remove them from the marinade and shake them dry. Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in a large frying pan (or wok). When the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer), add the shrimp and cook until they’re just done (maybe 2 minutes, depending on size). It’s OK if the shrimp are slightly underdone – they’ll cook more later. Remove the cooked shrimp and drain them on a plate lined with a paper towel. Leave the cooking oil in the pan.
- Meanwhile, start cooking the grits: Add the water to a 2-quart saucepan. Add salt, then bring the water to a boil. Slowly add the grits, stirring with a wooden spoon. Reduce the heat to a slight simmer and cover the saucepan. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Stir the grits 2 or 3 times while they cook. When the grits are done, remove them from the heat and set aside.
- As the grits are cooking, sauté the veggies: Add the chopped red bell pepper and scallions to the frying pan. Sauté (stir fry) for 2 minutes. Then add the minced garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the chili crisp, soy sauce, additional dry sherry, and chicken stock to the frying pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the mixture to reduce somewhat.
- Taste, then add more chili crisp if you want a spicier dish. Add the cooked shrimp back to the frying pan and reheat them (30 seconds or so).
- Remove the frying pan from the heat. If you want a thicker sauce, stir in the optional corn starch/water mixture.
- Ready to serve: Spoon a dollop of cooked grits on each plate. Spoon the shrimp stir-fry mixture on top, adding a little extra sauce. Garnish with some green scallion rounds, if you wish.
- In the process of making this dish, we discovered that grits make a terrific blank canvas for Asian-style dishes. So feel free to experiment.
- What kind of shrimp to use for this dish? We prefer shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, which we purchase frozen. We can get fresh shrimp where we live, but we tend to prefer frozen because the good brands freeze the shrimp right after they’re harvested. So we find that they actually taste better than fresh shrimp.
- What size shrimp to use? Whatever you prefer. For this dish, we like to use shrimp with a count of 16 or so to the pound.
- You can skip the marinating stage (Step 1) if you prefer. It does add a bit of flavor to the shrimp, but just a bit.
- You could also cook the shrimp near the end of the process if you wish. Just add them in Step 6, extending the cooking time until the shrimp are cooked (about 2 minutes for thawed/fresh shrimp, another minute or so for shrimp that are still frozen).
- Dry sherry has a similar flavor to Chinese rice wine. We use sherry just so we don’t have an extra ingredient on hand. If you don't have sherry on hand, just skip it (we suggest adding a bit more soy sauce in that case).
- Grits are quite similar to Italian polenta, so you could substitute polenta in this dish if you prefer. The difference between the two? American grits are usually made from hominy, which is dried corn (maize) that has been treated with an alkali (typically slaked lime).
- Both grits and polenta can be made from white or yellow corn, although grits are more often made from white corn, polenta from yellow.
- We always figure on 1 cup liquid for each ¼ cup grits. A quarter cup of grits will yield a very generous serving. So the ½ cup grits we call for in this recipe yields 2 main-course servings or 4 appetizer-sized.
- You could substitute rice for grits in this dish (rice being a more typical base for Asian dishes). But we find that grits really work in this recipe, so we suggest giving them a try. The downside is that we find it impossible to eat grits with chopsticks. So if using chopsticks is necessary to your happiness when eating Asian-style dishes, rice might be the ticket for you.
- You could substitute yellow or orange bell pepper for red if you prefer. You could try green bell pepper too, although we think its flavor wouldn’t work as well in this dish.
- About the scallions: We use all of the white part and much of the green in this dish (reserving some of the green rounds for garnish). We don’t use the last 2 or 3 inches of the green part, which tends to be tough. We usually cut the white part of the scallions into lengths of an inch or so and cut the green part into rounds of about ¼ inch.
- A slurry of corn starch and water works great for thickening the sauce. We sometimes use it, sometimes don’t – it really depends on our mood that day.
- We use kosher salt for cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Yumm-o,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “I may need seconds on this.”
“I’ll even share some of mine,” I said. “Don’t want to be shellfish.”
“You’re prawn to bad jokes,” said Mrs K R.
“I thought that one was shrimply irresistible,” I said.
“Now I’m gritting my teeth,” said Mrs K R.
Guess she doesn’t get my so-fish-ticated humor.
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I never heard of Chili Crisp before- I just looked it up and looks like something I should add to my pantry. Grits and spicy stir fry looks like an interesting combination! (I can't help thinking of that 1970s TV show 'Alice', where Flo the waitress often said to Mel, "Kiss my ___"!)
Hi Fran, chili crisp is good stuff. And I had forgotten all about Flo! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks stunning! I love the flavour, colour and presentation. An excellent recipe, John.
Hi Angie, it a great combo of flavors. And pretty quick to make, too -- winner! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love the Asian twist on this classic dish. YUM.
Hi Pam, I think we prefer this to the "regular" version! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Lovely. And I can’t get enough of that chili onion crisp! I’ll make scrambled eggs just to have it on top!
Hi Mimi, we love that chili crisp too. And you're right -- it's great with scrambled eggs. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a great twist in shrimp and grits! We eat cajun style quite often. I'm going to have to try your version. We both love Asian flavors so I'm sure this is delicious!
*smile* Fun fusion ! Prawns prepared thus naturally are everyday fare here but most Australians would not have a clue what 'grits' are unless they have been to the southern parts of US. As portion sizes also vary on the different sides of the Pond methinks this would make a very tasty main dish with some salad . . . if I ever have your ingredients in the house shall try it your way . . . thanks !
What a fascinating recipe John, and where you use grits, we would use boiled rice over here and chop sticks if in the mood. I've only ever tried grits when I was travelling in Maryland, it's not a dish we see where I live. Certainly tasty and filling though. I haven't seen the chilli onion crisp either, but I'll keep an eye out for it. Thankfully our fresh prawns are very tasty, so I could easily put this recipe together with a few substitutes. It looks delicious, and I love the hint of chilli with seafood. A great recipe, thanks for sharing this one. Cheers, Pauline
Hi MJ, we love the traditional version(s!) of shrimp and grits, but this is FUN. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eha, grits are, I believe, pretty specific to the US. But polenta is everywhere, these days, and would work just as well. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pauline, in the US most people would use rice for an Asian dish, too. But grits work! Or polenta. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I gather grits are a type of polenta (having just googled grits) but I agree rice would be wonderful this fantastically full flavoured dish. Your prawns look perfect, possibly deep fried shallots sprinkled on top cold give this a crispy effect.. It's always intereseting reading about ingredients that we cannot source in Australia. Fantastic dish, a wonderful mid week meal, thanks again for another great recipe and your shared puns :D
Hi Merryn, grits and polenta are indeed very similar. Love the idea of the deep fried shallots. Will definitely steal that idea. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Love the twist of flavors, great recipe
Hi Dahn and Pat, isn't this fun? And really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
chilli crisp? i do remember you talking about it in another recipe. i love prawns but hubby doesn't so i eat 'em when dining out. I'm sorry but grits with this? nah just can't see it:-) not that we have grits or even know about them really in australia.
Hi Sherry, grits DO sounds odd with Asian-style dishes. They work with this one, though. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a great combo! Kind of reminds me of congee except there probably wouldn't be stir fry over it. Whatever the case, this stokes my boat!
Hi Abbe, always happy to stoke boats around here. :-) Thanks for the comment.
That's a very pretty and interesting dish using grits. I've only had grits once while traveling through Savannah Georgia on our way to Florida.
Hi Judee, grits are pretty good, although we know a lot of people who've never had them. And they work surprisingly well in this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So this is the shrimp and grits dish you hinted at last week when you commented on our broccoli and grits dish! This sounds delicious, John—I love the Asian spin you put on it, especially with the chili crisp.
Hi Terry, it is indeed. :-) Hard to resist chili crisp, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Such a creative and yummy twist on shrimp and grits!
Hi Izaa, isn't it nice? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, really yummy. Really. :-) Thanks for the comment.
That is one cozy Asian Fusion dish! Never thought to swap out grits for rice. Need to try that asap!
Hi Bobbi, sounds so weird, but it works. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I had shrimp and grits at our local restaurants the other day and it was a disappointment. Your look so much better, John! I would love to have a bowl of your shrimp and grits. Love it!
Hi Holly, shrimp and grits CAN be rather pedestrian, alas. But this is anything but! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a kind of meal my daughter would thoroughly enjoy, knowing her love for shrimps and anything chili :D
It looks like a beautiful meal btw.
Hi Taruna, your daughter NEEDS this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm a huge fan of polenta, but grits is something I'll need to discover more. This dish looks fantastic: savoury grits, juicy shrimp cooked to perfection, and delicious vegetables. My perfect weekend brunch / lunch / dinner / dessert lol.
Hi Ben, grits are good. If you like polenta, you'll like grits. Thanks for the comment.
Asian-style shrimp and grits -- genius! This looks amazingly good. ;)
John, do you know this is something that I will be making… You do fusion better than anyone I know! And, I’m still grateful to you for introducing us to chili crisp. How could we not even about that?
Hi Carolyn, it IS amazingly good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi David, gosh, that's high praise coming from you! :-) Thanks.
You've inspired me to go in search for chili crisp again. I know I would love your Asian fusion version of shrimp and grits.
Hi Karen, chili crisp is SO good! Loads of flavor, and although spicy, not overly so. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What an interesting mash up: grits with Asian food! I also love your comment about chopsticks and really like the way you worded it.
Hi Jeff, :-) This is a wonderful dish! Thanks for the comment.
Everything you make looks both elegant and delicious.
Great idea John. We made a Thai green curry recently and had the leftovers over some leftover fried polenta the next day and it was crazy good (to me anyway) so I know this dish will work for my taste. Thanks for the inspiration.
Hi Amalia, this truly is delicious -- wonderful flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ron, grits or polenta really, really work with Asian-style dishes. Love the idea of the Thai green curry and polenta! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Thinking of you in my Sunday post which featured A COCKTAIL which I usually never drink!
best… mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, thanks for the heads up! I'll check it out. :-)
What a great idea! I made chile crisp for the first time last weekend. I still have some, and I'd love to use it for this!
Hi Lisa, this is such a great dish -- really worth making. :-) Thanks for the comment.
You had me at the Asian-Style, I never like grits but you just made me want to eat it now
Hi Raymund, grits are good with this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I seem to recall eating grits with seafood in New Orleans and really enjoying it. Time to try at home!
Hi Inger, we love grits! And they're fab with this dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
So much more interesting to use grits instead of rice here. So perfect to soak up that delicious chili crisp. I also love that the shrimp take a quick dip in sherry. Yum! :-) ~Valentina
Hi Valentina, that quick dip in sherry adds a lot of flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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