Shrimp ‘n’ grits is a classic Southern dish, especially around the Low Country of South Carolina. I like the way grits make a blank starchy canvas that can be easily paired with so many other flavors. A pot of grits is the easiest thing in the world to stir up; make it interesting by adding some butter, a little white cheddar, browned bacon and chives.
The shrimp that go with grits are usually seasoned with garlic, Cajun style seasoning, cayenne and herbs, kind of like a kicked up shrimp scampi.
But since Mark Bittman told me about this Spanish inspired recipe that stars Spanish paprika with ground cumin, I haven’t looked back.
The Simplest and Best Shrimp Dish
Makes: 4 servings
Time: About 30 minutes
Adapted from How to Cook Everything
Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.
Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook).
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
3 or 4 big cloves garlic, cut into slivers
About 1 1/2 pounds shrimp, 20 to 30 per pound, peeled, rinsed, and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Warm the olive oil in a large, broad ovenproof skillet or flameproof baking pan over low heat. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan; don’t skimp. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden, a few minutes.
2. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, some salt and pepper, the cumin, and the paprika. Stir to blend and continue to cook, shaking the pan once or twice and turning the shrimp once or twice, until they are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately.
From Mark Bittman.com