This fish and grits recipe is a perfect option for adding excitement to the dinner table. Your family will devour this quick-fix southern dinner staple.
There will be no complaints from your family as they devour a spoonful of grits with delicately seasoned and flavor-packed sea bass.
It’s needless to say that fish and grits make a hearty meal, and this delicious recipe comes together within no time. So, if you are looking for a quick-fix dinner with the ultimate focus on hearty flavor and rich texture, there is nothing better than fish and cheesy grits.
If you are fond of treating yourself with seafood without making it too umami, there is nothing better than this classic southern staple recipe, and we have all the delicious details for you!
Quick Background History – Where Did Fish And Grits Originate?
Before we start talking about the yummy ingredients and flavor, it’s important to see how this rich meal came into being. Truth be told, it started as a simple dish in South Carolina, but it was termed shrimp and grits, and was called breakfast shrimp.
During the prime season, the sailors would cook the fish or shrimp in butter and serve over southern yet smooth grits.
While it started as breakfast, it quickly became the southern staple and the classic recipe as we know it. However, we do want to mention that the entire dynamic of the recipe changed in 1982 when chef Bill Neal made his own version of this classic southern recipe, but he added bacon and cheese, which resulted in an even richer flavor.
The chef made the cheddar and parmesan grits with the creamy texture and topped it with fresh shrimp and extremely crispy bacon (yes, we know we are talking about fish and grits, and the modern version is all about replacing shrimps with sea bass).
In addition, the recipe was made heartier with the incorporation of sautéed mushrooms.
Long story short, Claiborne tried this meal and was so impressed that he published the recipe in the popular publication, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that this recipe spread like wildfire, and different restaurants started serving it.
In addition, many restaurants experimented with the ingredients to make new variations, and that’s how we know fish and grits.
While you try your hands on this recipe, there are some additional details that might help. To begin with, if you want to enhance the richness and heartiness of the recipe, it’s best to top the fish with sautéed and diced red peppers and green peppers.
In addition to these peppers, the combination of mushrooms, green onions, and tomatoes will add the ultimate zing to the meal.
This dish can be served as a complete meal or simply make it a side dish with buttered toast and sweet peas, but while you are at it, don’t forget to make some ice-cold tea or this Haitian Lemonade.
On the other hand, when the cooking process is complete, and the grits seem too thick, it’s best to add hot broth for thinning the texture (it will enhance the flavor) or just add hot water.
Topping it all, as soon as you are done with cooking, wash the pot immediately because the grits will stick to the pot’s side, and it will take years to clean them (not literally, but you will regret not washing the pan earlier).
Which Grits To Use?
In the majority of cases, the white corn grits are used, and they can be soaked overnight to yield a creamier and richer finish, while the addition of butter will only enhance the flavor.
Remember that both yellow and white grits are processed differently. They are both processed from two different types of corn. We find that yellow grits tend to be richer.
White corn grits is easily available and is cost less, but is not as sweet.
In addition, the air fryer sea bass has to be cooked to a crisp texture, both flavors and texture marries so well to provide you with a delightful experience.
To keep things light and quick, for this recipe we opt in for the quick grits as it is both economical and as easily delicious.
How Does It Taste?
As we mentioned in our cheddar grits post, grits will encompass any flavor it is given. Therefore, making it an easy ingredient to work with.
When grits are cooked, the finished grits tend to have a mild, smooth, and thick flavor, and they can easily absorb the flavor of other ingredients, such as cheese, butter, and salt.
The grits can also be made with chopped and cooked turkey bacon, scallions, and cheese to make a savory breakfast. In fact, you can add scallions, tomatoes, caramelized onions, herbs, and roasted red peppers to make a side.
In simpler words, you can use different ingredients in grits to enhance the flavor, but for making this authentic fish and cheesy grits meal, it’s best to stick with cheddar cheese, salt, butter, and mushrooms.
On the other hand, when you finish the dish with the air fryer sea bass, it will add the mild sweetness of the fish as well as the meaty consistency and fuller texture.
For the most part, sea bass has a mild and delicate flavor with subtle hints of sweetness, which makes it quite similar to cod and grouper.
The flesh boasts a tender, buttery, and moist texture, and it’s an apt choice for people who have a sensitive palate towards fishing flavors. To summarize, the flavor of dish is rich, creamy, and delicate.
What Type Of Fish Should I Use To Make Fish & Grits?
Quite honestly you can prepare any fish to prepare your fish & grits. But most will recommend seas bass; as used in this recipe (fried or in a stew), you may also use grouper, trout, and even red snapper.
Recipe Ingredients & Cooking Method:
To make this recipe it is quiet simple. We begin by making the cheddar grits with the following ingredients.
To Make The Cheddar Grits: We have a full step-by-step guide with pictures and video to help you make this recipe perfectly each time here.
3 Cups Water
1 ½ Cups Vegetable Broth
2 Cups Quick Grits
1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
½ Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese
1 Cup Milk We used 2% Milk
Cheddar Grits Cooking Method:
Start by adding water and vegetable broth to a pan. Bring the liquid to boil over medium heat.
Once the liquid starts to boil, slowly add in the grits to the liquid and begin stirring in a circular motion. Reduce the heat slightly to avoid large splashes. Stirring will also prevent the grits from clumping up.
Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Cover the grits and allow to cook for about 5 minutes on low heat. Then add in the milk, butter, and add in the cheese.
Continue stirring as each ingredient is added. Lower the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
When ready to serve, top your grits with butter and more cheese as well as other toppings of your choice. Enjoy.
Air Fryer Sea Bass Ingredients & Cooking Method
We have a full step-by-step guide with pictures and video to help you also make this recipe perfectly each time here.
1 Whole Sea Bass; cut into 4 to 5 pieces. Washed and set aside.
¼ Cup Olive Oil
1 Tsp. Kosher Salt
½ Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Paprika
1 Tsp. Lemon Pepper Seasoning Base
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Onion Powder
1 Tsp. Allspice
1 Tbsp. Parsley Flakes
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well, then pour the mixture over the fish. Apply the seasoning on all sides of the fish.
Place the seasoned fish in the air fryer basket or tray (depending on the air fryer you have) and air fry for 12-15 minutes at 325 degrees.
When ready to serve, top the fish on cheddar grits and enjoy.
Fish & Grits Variations
Your delicious fish & grits pairs well with sautéed onions or greens. Here are a few more options to pair with your meal.
Instead of fish, try air fryer sausage and potatoes
Try it with this delicious air fryer Lobster Tail
It is sumptuous with this Haitian style Smoked Herring
And finally, try it with this okra stew recipe
How To Store?
Honestly, you should serve this hearty meal in fresh form, but you can store the leftovers for two to three days in a refrigerator but make sure you use airtight containers.
We also recommend that you store the meal in separate airtight containers to ensure the flavor is well-preserved and retained.
More Dishes To Pair It With…
To begin with, this is one of the richest meals to enjoy, and you need specific sides to accentuate and compliment the flavors. For this purpose, you can opt for the following sides.
- Instant Pot Collard Greens
- Green salad with buttermilk dressing, or this Salad Niçoise
- Creamed peas or creamed spinach
- Roasted air fryer asparagus or broccoli
- Green bean salads
The Bottom Line
Fish and grits is one of the most delicious dishes that you can savor whenever you want.
Ranging from dinner to brunch and breakfast, it can be served and savored whenever you want but make sure that you focus on cooking and pay attention to details because you don’t want this creamy meal to come out bad – it would be such a disappointment!
It warms our hearts to see the recipes you make from this site, and we’d especially would love to know if you tried this recipe.
Also, we would appreciate if could give it a star rating below!