Miso Shrimp and Grits

Grits Should Be Gritty
When it comes to Southern favorites, like shrimp and grits, I’m hard to please. Shrimp and grits dishes are appearing on menus north of the Mason Dixon line more often, but the flavors and textures are hit or miss. While Southerners are tolerant of ridiculous food combinations–sugar in the grits, hot sauce in the grits, biscuit and eggs and bacon chopped up and mixed in with the grits–there is one I think we all agree on: grits need to be gritty. At least slightly. Creaminess is great, but some restaurants are turning out grits that are damn near pudding. We need to know we’re eating grits.

Sear the Shrimp and Sauce It
Now about the shrimp: grill or sear them before adding them to the grits. Visually, the shrimp will stand up to the texture of the grits if they are grilled or seared. If there is one thing that finer restaurants consistently get right and which generally can’t be rivaled by home cooks, it’s sauce. I can (almost) forgive wimpy grits if the sauce is something smoky flavored or creamy with bits of lobster (I could go on).

Seared Shrimp
This brand of Red Miso is lower in sodium than most.

Miso and Shrimp with Grits
When you can’t find a restaurant with your kind of shrimp and grits, or if you want to make an outstanding bowl or two of shrimp and grits for company, give my recipe a try. I’ve developed it over the last few weeks with the help of The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. This is the best book on the market (in my opinion) for combining compatible foods and flavors (more on this book in another post). In my recipe, the grits are creamy but still recognizable as grits, the sustainable shrimp are seared, and the sauce is made from miso paste, which adds a satisfying smokiness and savoriness.

Miso Shrimp and Grits

*(Note: the recipe quantity for grits was updated on May 12, 2012)
Recipe– Sauce and Shrimp (Serves 2-3)
1 cup of vegetable broth
2 teaspoons of red miso paste
2 green onions, sliced thin (reserve the sliced green tops for garnish)
1 dozen raw, cleaned and deveined, medium shrimp


  1. Warm vegetable broth on medium heat, but don’t let it boil (boiling would kill the live cultures in the miso, once it is added).
  2. Stir in the miso paste and green onions.
  3. Allow the sauce to reduce (10-12 minutes); stir occasionally. 
  4. Sear the shrimp for 1 minute on each side while sauce is reducing (finish cooking shrimp in the sauce).
  5. Add shrimp to sauce during the last minute or two of reducing.
  6. Pour shrimp and sauce over hot grits.

Recipe–The Grits
3 cups water
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 cup of stoneground yellow grits
1 tablespoon of mascarpone

  1. Add a pinch of salt to the water and bring to a rolling boil (be careful to use only a pinch. The miso paste, which you will use to make the sauce, is salty).
  2. Add four tablespoons of grits and immediately begin to stir with a whisk.
  3. Add garlic powder; continue stirring.
  4. Cook the grits slowly at medium-low heat, stirring frequently to avoid lumps. 
  5. Add mascarpone and stir until creamy. 
Follow Me!
Follow Me!

Latest posts by Alaiyo Kiasi-Barnes (see all)


  1. says

    Yay, another Flavor Bible fan! Isn’t that, like, the best book ever? I couldn’t do without it. Are you blogging about your miso meatballs? I’d love to see them. Thanks for commenting!

  2. says

    THE COOKING LADY: Thanks for commenting. I like your Clam Chowder Soup and the Turnip and Mustard Greens recipes on your blog!

    LYNNE: Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I found my miso paste at a local organic market, and I believe Whole Foods sells it as well. Let me know what you think of the recipe if you try it! :)

  3. says

    I LOVE me some creative grits! I bet red miso grits would be awesome! I used miso paste to make a reduction for some lima bean croquettes I made last weekend. NOM. 😀

  4. says

    We’re a house divided on grits. Cheryl LOVES them, grew up on them. Adam not so much. But I’ll betcha yours would change his mind–what a great dish. Totally agree with searing your shrimp–gives it such beautiful color (and flavor!). And the addition of miso? Brilliant. Just brilliant.

  5. says

    JCHAPSTCK: I so appreciate your support. I’ll be the miso shrimp would be fantastic over rice!

    TIFFANY: I know your lima bean croquettes with miso are the absolute bomb!

    RICHELLE: I was thrilled when I read your comment and went to your site. Thanks for your recognition and Shout Out. I will do the same for five deserving bloggers.

    TINA: Nice to see you again, and thanks for your nice comment.

    CHERYL AND ADAM: You know, since I’ve written this post, I’m learning that friends, co-workers, and other bloggers have strong likes and dislikes regarding grits. I think it’s just of matter of finding the perfect accompaniment for this great grain. Thanks for your kind comments!

  6. says

    So, I will be buying this book now! I made shrimp and grits 2 nights ago. Unfortunately, we only have the quick cooking grits at the commissary, boo. But I do love the gritty and creamy! I absolutely hate sweet grits and I am not southern. Love me a bowl of thick hearty savory grits! Thanks for sharing, shall be pinning this in hopes you inspire others!

  7. says


    What a beautiful recipe. I love miso paste of all colors. We have a Japanese market here in San Francisco that supplies many different types of miso paste. Every time I get a chance to go there I bring something different home. Good thing about miso is that you can keep it in the fridge for months and as it ages it tastes even better! It is such a versatile food ingredient and tastes magnificent! Combining grits with miso-shrimp is that kind of East meets West approach to food I adore. This dish looks delish!

  8. Anonymous says

    How many does this serve? – not very clear. I have 4 people for dinner and cannot imagine only 1 TBSP of grits per person; so I am wondering if it is for a single serving? But then I need 4 dozen shrimp.

    • says

      Thank you for noticing (and for letting me know) that I didn’t provide serving information for this recipe. I generally add the number of servings in my recipes, but this time I was negligent. I regret the omission since this post has been viewed many times.

      The recipe here serves two people, with six shrimp per person per serving. You have inspired me to make the dish again for four to test the quantities. Do you think that 1/2 cup of grits is not enough for your guests?

      In my experience, whole-grain grits need more water to prevent them from becoming too thick too soon. I should try the recipe with quick grits in order to provide information to cooks who will be using this product.

      Again, thank you for your comment. I appreciate your feedback and will work to improve the recipe.


    • Anonymous says

      Thank you for your clarification – I did double the recipe and found that the sauce was very liquid (maybe it is supposed to be?) and the grits were – well, I don’t know how they were supposed to be. I am in Europe and we don’t have access to different varieties of grits. Just lucky to get them at all!! So, for the recipe to be universal, it would be helpful to understand a bit more. Especially as you go into how it is important to cook them right. We just don’t know and you don’t tell us…

      But, I am impressed that you are working to improve and that is what my feedback is for. I am much like you, trying to eat sustainably.

      Thank you,

      Belgian pescatarian

  9. says

    “Some” Southerners may be tolerant of fooled around with grits – but not this one. Unfortunately in the south what I find even more deplorable, is not cooking them until they’re tender… a little bite is fine, but they shouldn’t be starchy sawdust.

    Loving the miso in your S-N-G’s. I don’t care for using Tasso Ham in mine and I’m always looking for a suitable substitute

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *