Food & Drink

Chef Ann Kim’s Curried Shrimp and Grits

With a dash of curry powder and a swirl of coconut milk, the Garden & Gun Club chef puts a Bay Area–spin on the Southern staple

photo: Farrah Power

Ann Kim will be the first to admit: It isn’t easy to reinvent a classic. “The thing about shrimp and grits is that every Southern restaurant has its version, but they’re often very similar,” says the Garden & Gun Club executive chef. When developing her own recipe for the Atlanta restaurant, the California native sought to reach beyond the staple components of andouille sausage, onions, bell peppers, and a tomato-based sauce.

“I came here from the Bay Area, where the cuisine has a huge Asian influence,” she says. “You see a lot of coconut milk curries there, and I always thought those flavors would go well with what’s already present in a traditional shrimp and grits.” Later, while flipping through G&G’s Southerner’s Cookbook, Kim’s was reminded of a Lowcountry favorite starring similar flavors: “I noticed that Steven Satterfield’s recipe for country captain had curry powder as an ingredient, and seeing it used in another Southern dish, I knew it would translate.” Kim also deepened the richness of the shrimp and grits with coconut milk, and “it gets some extra smokiness from the bacon,” she says. “Everything is tastier cooked in bacon fat, isn’t it?” 

Fresh shrimp remains the centerpiece, of course, but any type will do. “You can keep the shrimp whole with the head and shell on, or peel and devein the whole thing,” Kim says. “The heads do have a lot of flavor, though, so if you’re not too squeamish, I would recommend trying them.” And once you have your base, the rest is up to you—”If you’re not a huge fan of grits, or want something a bit lighter, it’s also very good on top of rice.” 


The Garden & Gun Club at the Battery Atlanta is currently open for takeout orders. Visit the Club’s website for more information or see the takeout menu here.


Ingredients

  • Curried Shrimp and Grits (Yield: 4–6 servings)

    • Curry sauce (recipe follows)

    • Grits (recipe follows)

    • Vegetable or canola oil

    • 2 lb. raw shrimp (such as 16/20)

    • Salt

    • 2 tbsp. shallots, finely chopped

    • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced

    • ¼ cup white wine

    • 6 oz. cold butter, cubed

    • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

    • Lemon wedges

    • Toasted bread to soak up sauce

  • Curry Sauce

    • 1 cup bacon, diced

    • 1 cup onion, diced

    • 1 cup celery, diced

    • 1 cup red bell pepper, diced

    • 1½ tsp. chili flakes

    • 2 tsp. curry powder

    • 1½ tsp. paprika

    • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire

    • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced

    • 1 bay leaf

    • 4 sprigs thyme

    • 3 cups canned tomatoes, diced and smashed

    • ½ lb. andouille sausage

    • 3 cups shrimp stock (can substitute fish stock or chicken stock)

    • ¾ cups coconut milk

    • 1½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • Grits

    • 4 cups water

    • 1 cup grits

    • ¼ cup heavy cream

    • 1½ tsp. kosher salt

    • ½ tsp. black pepper

    • Hot sauce to taste (any vinegar-based variety such as Tabasco or Crystal)

    • 4 tbsp. butter


Preparation

  1. Make the curry sauce: Render down bacon on high heat until crispy. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper and sauté until the vegetables are soft.

  2. Once the vegetables have cooked, add chili flakes, curry powder, paprika, and Worcestershire and cook for another couple minutes. 

  3. Add garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook until the garlic is cooked, but not brown. 

  4. Add tomatoes and andouille and cook until the andouille is heated through. 

  5. Pour in shrimp stock and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 more minutes. 

  6. Finish with coconut milk, salt, and black pepper. Taste the sauce to ensure the seasoning is to your liking. It may need a little more salt and pepper.

  7. Make the grits: In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Whisk in grits and reduce heat to a simmer. Use a whisk to stir up grits every few minutes to make sure they don’t settle at the bottom and burn. Continue for 20–25 minutes depending on your grits. For more coarse grits, the process will take longer and require more liquid. 

  8. Once the grits are soft with no bite, add heavy cream, salt, pepper, and few dashes of hot sauce. The acid will balance out the natural sweetness of the corn and add more complexity to the grits.

  9. Whisk cold butter into the grits. This will make the grits even richer and creamier.

  10. Assemble: Heat a large sauté pan or a shallow stock pot on high heat. Coat bottom of pan with oil. Once the oil is very hot, add the shrimp. (Make sure the shrimp are not too wet—if so, the water will pop and you won’t get a good sear.) Season with salt and cook until you see a little browning on the edges. 

  11. Add shallots and sauté for a minute. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. Deglaze the pan or pot with white wine.

  12. Add the previously made sauce and bring to a boil. Remove shrimp and set aside if fully cooked to avoid overcooking. Reduce sauce to a simmer and whisk in cold butter.

  13. Spoon previously made grits in a bowl. Pile shrimp on top of grits. Pour sauce over shrimp. Garnish with green onions and serve with lemon wedges.