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Amen Street Shrimp & Grits

From seafood shacks to old neighborhood pubs, the South Carolina and Georgia coasts are a foodie mecca. If you’re in the heart of downtown Charleston and you hear an “amen” as you pass by the corner of East Bay and Cumberland, it’s likely to be a happy diner praising the blessings of the sea at Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar at 205 E. Bay Street.

Local lore says Amen Street was so named because “amens” could be heard coming from neighboring churches. You’ll say amen and hallelujah once you step inside and taste Chef Ramon’s celebrated Shrimp and Grits.

1/2 cup tasso ham (ground in a food processor)
2 Tbsp green onions, sliced thin
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 batch roasted tomato puree (recipe below)
12 large shrimp
Stone ground grits (recipe below)

Roasted Tomato Puree:

3 vine ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp shallots, sliced thin
4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp molasses

For the tomato puree, place tomatoes on a baking rack and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a 500-degree oven for 20 minutes. Let rest to room temperature and remove skin and seeds. Roughly chop. In a saucepan, place the garlic and shallots with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, vinegar and molasses and turn heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until most of the liquid has evaporated and set aside.

Grits:

4 cups water
1/2 cup cream
3 Tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup stone ground grits

magnoliasporchesteaBring water and butter to a boil, slowly whisking in grits. Turn heat to low and cook 20 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Whisk in cream and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

To prepare, place a large saute skillet on a burner over medium-high heat. Once the pan is warm, addd 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Then add shrimp. Saute 1 minute on each side. Add tasso and tomato puree, and pour over grits to serve. Serves two.

Recipe courtesy of Chef Ramon Taimanglo of Amen Street Fish & Raw Bar in Charleston and taken from the forthcoming book “Magnolias, Porches & Sweet Tea: Recipes, Stories & Art From The Lowcountry” by Pat Branning.

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