“When folks think of coastal Georgia food, they think of shrimp and grits. That dish is definitely indicative of the Saltwater Gullah and Geechee who lived on the Sea Islands. They most often made the dish with a rich brown gravy or roux, much more akin to a gumbo. Freshwater—or mainland—Geechee, like my family, made something closer to a jambalaya: no okra but richly flavored with tomatoes and red pepper. The rice, of course, stretches it. For me, my mom’s shrimp creole, a recipe handed down through the family, is a comfort food.”
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
One 16-ounce can tomato puree
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
2 cups uncooked long-grain rice or Carolina Gold rice
1 quart warm Shrimp Stock, prepared or homemade (recipe below)
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved for Shrimp Stock
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts (8 cups) cold water
4 cups shrimp shells
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, peeled and quartered
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery rib, cut into 2-inch pieces, including leaves
1 lemon, quartered
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
For the homemade shrimp stock
- In a large cast-iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic, and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add peppers, tomato puree, red pepper flakes, and rice, stirring until well combined. Pour stock in slowly to prevent splattering, as the pan will be hot, then bring the creole to a boil. Once boiling, stir, cover, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove cover, add shrimp, and give the rice a good stir. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes more, until all the liquid is absorbed and the shrimp have pinked and curled. Before serving, taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.
To make the shrimp stock:
- Pour water in a large stockpot and set aside. Rinse and drain shrimp shells. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat and toss in shrimp shells; cook for 2 minutes. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes more. Add shrimp shells and vegetables to the stockpot, then add lemon, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes. Remove from heat, then strain the stock through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into quart- or pint-sized containers. Cool stock completely, then refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for later use.
Adapted FromBress 'N' Nyam: Gullah Geechee Recipes from a Sixth-Generation Farmer. Copyright by Matthew Raiford and Amy Paige Condon, 2021. Used with permission of the publisher, Countryman Press. All rights reserved.