A Chinese-accented take on a Lowcountry favorite
All his life, Shuai Wang has loved shrimp and rice. “My mom says I would sit down and eat two or three pounds of shrimp all by myself,” he recalls. Now the Beijing-born, New York–raised chef runs the critically acclaimed Short Grain food truck in a city that appreciates both Southern staples as much as he does: Charleston, South Carolina. His version of a classic Lowcountry combination, shrimp and grits, eschews traditional ingredients like tomato, bell pepper, and mushroom in favor of sweet, earthy miso, salty soy, and full-bodied black vinegar, an inky cousin to balsamic. In place of grits, Wang uses heirloom Carolina Gold rice, which supplies a thick, rich base akin to congee, the rice-based porridge that’s a customary breakfast food in China. “Traditionally, you eat congee with just a little scallion and soy,” Wang says, “but there’s no limit to what you can put on it.” The chef gets his shrimp fresh out of the water from a family operation that docks just over the bridge from where he parks his mobile kitchen. “The shrimp here are buttery, plump, sweet, and so good,” Wang says. And right at home on a bed of rice “grits,” for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Shrimp and Carolina Gold Rice ”Grits“
For the rice:
3 cups chicken stock or water
½ cup Carolina Gold rice or other long-grain rice
½ tbsp. butter
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 pinch white pepper
For the shrimp:
1 tbsp. canola oil
12 medium shrimp, peeled
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced at an angle
2 tbsp. sake
1 tbsp. white miso
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. Chinese black vinegar, preferably Gold Plum, or malt vinegar
¼ tsp. chili oil, preferably Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce
¼ cup roasted peanuts, crushed
Pour stock or water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and add rice. Simmer uncovered until rice is the consistency of porridge, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Stir in butter, salt, and pepper.
Pour oil into a large skillet
over high heat. When it’s just smoking, add shrimp in a single layer. Do not move them. When they begin to turn brown around the edges after about 2 minutes, add butter, garlic, green onions, sake, and miso. Shake the pan
or stir to combine, then remove from heat.
In a bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil. To plate, divide the rice “grits” between 2 bowls and add the shrimp to each. Pour the soy sauce mixture on top, and garnish with peanuts.
Hot Tip: All but extinct between the 1950s and the 1980s, Carolina Gold rice is now available from the flavor preservationists at Columbia, South Carolina–based Anson Mills.