Gullah cuisine was birthed out of the Gullah-Geechee community. These West African Slave Descendants farmed the rice plantations of the Lowcountry back in the 1700s. The Southern region now embraces their traditional food customs. Gullah Recipes are based on rice, simmered vegetables, and fresh seafood. Specifically, oysters, shrimp, grits, and okra are commonly incorporated. These beloved, cultural dishes boast rich history and even richer flavors. Here are five Gullah recipes for your next meal.
Adapted from the Gullah Cuisine Restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.
This recipe combines some of the most classic ingredients of Gullah cuisine including white rice, shrimp, and andouille sausage. Gullah rice is a traditional, pot-based creation providing family-sized portions. The African slaves first working the plantations developed a deeper understanding of rice cultivation than the plantation owners themselves. Because of this, they were able to reap the benefits of their knowledge by incorporating rice into everyday fares.
½ c. vegetable oil
1½ lb. skinless chicken pieces
3 tbsp. Gullah Seasoning
1 c. diced yellow onion
5 c. chicken stock
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. raw white rice
½ c. Finely diced green bell pepper
½ c. peeled and finely diced carrots
¼ lb. shrimp
¼ c. sliced andouille sausage
1) Heat 1/4 cup oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Season chicken with Gullah seasoning. Brown chicken in oil, about 8 minutes; remove and set aside. Add onion to pot and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
2) Return chicken to pot with onion and add stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and briskly simmer until juices run clear when the chicken is pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Strain stock into a bowl and discard onion. Return stock to pot.
3) Heat butter in another heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook over medium heat, whisking continuously, until mixture turns dark brown, about 10 minutes. Whisk mixture into stock, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and briskly simmer until stock thickens, about 5 minutes. Add rice and return to a simmer, then cover and continue to simmer until rice is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
4) While rice is cooking, strip chicken meat from bones. Discard bones and any sinew. Dice the meat.
5) In a clean, heavy-bottomed pot, heat remaining 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Add pepper and carrots; sauté until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp and sauté 3 minutes more. Add chicken and sausage and heat through. Add mixture to rice, mix well, and cook until heated through. Serve immediately. Serves 8 people.
These homestyle corn cakes signify the warm culture of the Gullah people and their love for simple, hearty food. Corn-based recipes are commonplace in the South where fried food abounds. This combination of dairy ingredients, vegetables and spices provides the best combination of sweet and salty flavor. Fried corn cakes are frequently served with fish, shrimp, or sausage but make a delectable side plate for just about any kind of meal. Hungry yet? Prepare one of these simple Gullah recipes for your next meal!
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup diced bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped celery, with some leaves
½ cup self rising flour
½ cup self-rising buttermilk cornmeal
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 beaten egg
1 cup fresh or frozen corn, cooked and drained
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1) In a small skillet, melt butter and sauté onion, bell pepper, and celery until just tender. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl, mix together flour and cornmeal. Slowly stir in buttermilk. Add egg and corn.
3) Stir in sugar, garlic salt, black pepper, and red pepper. Add the vegetables and melted butter and mix.
4) Drizzle a black iron skillet with oil – or use a nonstick pan – and heat over medium heat. When pan is hot, use a ladle to pour corn cake batter into pancake-size rounds. Cook until brown on one side. Flip and brown the other side.
5) Serve with a drizzling of cane syrup.
Seasonally demanded fresh peaches grow bountifully along the Southern coastal corridor. As with most Gullah recipes, the periodic element of the dessert makes it unique and desirable. The Gullah culture had to create meals based on food that was available throughout different parts of the year. South Carolina’s prime peach-picking season is May through August, making for a short window to enjoy this Gullah gem. Use ripe peaches for the ultimate flavor sensation.
2 pounds fresh peaches
1 standard pie shell
½ cup flour
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1) Wash and peel peaches and slice thinly. Set aside.
2) Make sure pie shell is completely thawed.
3) Mix together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Use a pastry cutter or fork to blend in butter. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.
4) Measure half of the flour mixture and sprinkle evenly over pie crust bottom.
5) Place the peaches over the flour mixture. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon over peaches.
6) Whisk together egg, cream, and vanilla and pour over sliced peaches.
7) Top with remaining flour mixture.
8) Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.
The high quantity of shrimp in the South Carolina waters accounts for its popularity within Gullah recipes. This also applies to okra, which grows in abundance across the state and is easy to prepare. The long growing season of the vegetable adds to its popularity. Shrimp and okra combinations are commonplace in Gullah culture and fabulously delicious. Pour this concoction over bowls of rice to create a feast for the whole family. Don’t leave this recipe off the list of Gullah recipes for your next meal.
1½ lbs. chopped okra
1 lb. peeled shrimp
2–3 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced chile pepper
1 tsp. minced ginger
½ cup diced onion
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Minced parsley, to taste
Minced thyme, to taste
1 cup diced tomato
Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom.
Add okra and cook until it begins to brown, stirring occasionally. (If okra starts to stick, add more oil.)
Then add the next 5 ingredients.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook 5 minutes.
Next, add herbs and tomato, including seeds and juice, to the skillet.
Cook until shrimp is ready, 2 to 3 minutes more. If desired, add more salt and pepper before serving.
The South is often referred to as the “Grits Belt” due to their popularity in Southern dishes. Grits are ground from corn and originally created by the Native Americans. They were passed onto modern culture when plantation owners provided them to the Gullah people as part of their food allowance. Grits became a fundamental ingredient in Southern cuisine. The Gullah people traditionally added seafood to their grits, combining simple ingredients into the decadent meal recognized worldwide today.
2 cups Jim Dandy Quick Grits, prepared according to package instructions
1 cup vegetable oil
1 pound Wild Georgia Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup flour, preferably White Lilly self-rising flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 cup hot water
3 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1) Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet, preferably a cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat.
2) Sprinkle the shrimp with the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder and toss. Place the flour in a large plastic bag with a zip lock then add the seasoned shrimp, close the lock and shake the shrimp to coat it well.
3) Test the oil temperature by dropping in a dab of the flour. If it sizzles then add the shrimp to the hot skillet and cook the shrimp until it is browned on both sides.
4) Remove the shrimp and set aside. Drain the oil then add the onion, bell peppers, celery and water then turn the heat to medium and simmer the vegetables until they are tender. Add the shrimp and simmer 10 to 15 minutes until the gravy thickens and browns.
5) Serve the shrimp over the prepared grits and crumble the bacon on top. Season with salt and pepper.