Fried Porgy over "Red" Grits

Cornmeal-Crusted Pan-Fried Whole Porgy over Tomato Paprika Grits with Soy-Sautéed Green Beans and Onions

Not even remembering why I still had leftover tomato paste in my fridge, like a good little cook, I had to make sure I did't let it go to waste.

So checking my kitchen cupboard for other foods I may still be in abundance of, I find the old morning southern staple box of grits, and decide I would make an extra savory small pot of grits, stirring in the tomato paste, some veggie broth, and smoked paprika.

On top of those grits I would put a cornmeal-crusted and pan-fried whole porgy — another Cheeseboro-familiar country south traditional dish — serving it with a side of green beans on sliced white onions, sautéed simply with salt, pepper, soy sauce, and butter.

Crunchy-skinned flaky fish lay on warm grits — no longer relegated to the morning hours — richly savory and sweet with tomato flavor and with the smoky depth of paprika. Earthy, snappy green beans (just like the ones I used to help my uncles pick on my granddaddy's Orangeburg, South Carolina farm) supplement each forkful of fish and grits with more taste bud memories of the country south of my family's country dishes.

I consider it a very successful dish that makes me hope I'll always have lifelong fond remembrances of my family's southern cooking to inspire me to make exciting new dishes.