Recipes: Re-create a taste of the Caribbean, with help from owner of Apt. 4B

Sim Walker, owner of Apt. 4B in Buckhead, poses with a few of the restaurant's dishes: (from left) Coconut Seafood Curry, Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, and Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Sim Walker, owner of Apt. 4B in Buckhead, poses with a few of the restaurant's dishes: (from left) Coconut Seafood Curry, Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, and Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Owner of Ms. Icey’s Kitchen in Decatur, and the new Apt. 4B in Buckhead, Sim Walker grew up in the restaurant business in New York City.

Walker’s single mother, Marva Layne, started out with a pastry shop called Sweetie Pie in Hell’s Kitchen. Later, Layne opened Island Spice, a Caribbean restaurant in the theater district, then Negril in Chelsea, and Negril Village in Greenwich Village, which is still in operation.

“I grew up doing everything from deliveries to dish-washing and line cook,” Walker says. “When you grow up as a restaurant kid, any job that there is to do, you pretty much do it.”

Walker briefly partnered in a Southern fusion restaurant in Brooklyn, called SoCo. And in 2014, he opened another version of Negril Village on North Avenue in Midtown.

As a born and raised, lifelong New Yorker, Walker admits he came to Atlanta “kicking and screaming.”

“I never had the intention of being in Atlanta,” he says. “I thought I was just going to help Negril Village get off the ground. But seven years later, I’m still in Atlanta.”

Sim Walker, owner of Apt. 4B in Buckhead, came to Atlanta from New York and didn't expect to spend the past seven years here. (Chris Hunt for the AJC)
Sim Walker, owner of Apt. 4B in Buckhead, came to Atlanta from New York and didn't expect to spend the past seven years here. (Chris Hunt for the AJC)

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

While Ms. Icey’s is a comfy Southern soul food tribute to Walker’s grandmother, Apt. 4B is all about taking Caribbean cooking to a more sophisticated level — with a clubby vinyl bar vibe that features a huge collection of records and a DJ booth.

“Music is a heavy theme to what I do,” Walker says. “I guess I’m very much a New York City urban hip-hop baby.”

Talking about Apt. 4B, Walker declares that, as a concept, “it’s loaded.” And it has its roots in the apartment his family shared when he was a child.

“Apt. 2B was where we used to cook our food and deliver it around the corner to our restaurant,” he remembers. “It was the place where I grew up and learned to cook.”

Walker calls Apt. 4B a modern Caribbean restaurant, with food that is “really beautiful and engaging.”

“It’s a place for you to come and socialize, listen to music, eat good food, and feel the vibe,” Walker says. “I told the chefs that the type of food I wanted to have here is what we would eat if we were entertaining with our friends in the apartment. The food is rooted in Caribbean flavors, but it’s not a typical Caribbean restaurant.”

Apt. 4B dishes that home cooks can re-create include Coconut Seafood Curry (from top), Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, and Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Apt. 4B dishes that home cooks can re-create include Coconut Seafood Curry (from top), Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, and Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Among the varied dishes you’ll find at 4B, there are Coconut Seafood Curry, Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, and Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta. And Walker shared home cook-friendly versions of those recipes with the AJC.

“Curry in general isn’t a typical Caribbean flavor,” he says. “Jamaican and Caribbean food is a collection of other cultures. Typically, the most popular curry dish in Jamaica is goat. But for something a little lighter and brighter, seafood is a great option.”

As for the fried snapper, Walker calls it “a classic Third World dish,” explaining that the processes of frying and pickling bring out the flavors and make it easier to keep. “When we top it with the pickled vegetables, not only does it bring out another layer of complexity, the vinegar actually preserves it,” he says.

Walker admits that lamb isn’t typically Caribbean, but the flavors fit the menu.

“That’s an example of a dish that’s not classically Caribbean,” he says. “In the restaurant, we make it with Haitian chocolate. But we didn’t want home cooks going crazy looking for that. In both versions, it’s heavily seasoned, and it’s a crowd-pleasing dish in the restaurant.”

RECIPES

These recipes were originally developed by former Apt. 4B executive chef Dayana Joseph. The three Caribbean dishes, which are still served at the restaurant, have been modified for home cooks.

Coconut Seafood Curry, from Apt. 4B, 2293 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC
Coconut Seafood Curry, from Apt. 4B, 2293 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC

Credit: Chris Hunt

Credit: Chris Hunt

Coconut Seafood Curry

With a medley of shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams and crabmeat, the spice level of this aromatic seafood curry can be adjusted to taste before serving. Save any leftover curry sauce for another dish.

Coconut Seafood Curry
  • For the allium medley:
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
  • For the dry ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • For the wet ingredients:
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • For the seafood medley:
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
    • 6 large shrimp
    • 4 large scallops
    • 6 mussels
    • 6 clams
    • 6 ounces king crabmeat
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • To make the curry sauce: In a large pot over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and saute the ginger, yellow onion, garlic and scallions until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Bring to a low simmer, and add the curry powder, brown sugar, paprika, salt, coriander, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper and lime zest. It should almost become like a paste. Add the coconut milk, vegetable stock and lime juice and continue to simmer on low for 10-15 minutes.
    • In a large pan over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic, then saute shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams, about 3 minutes, or until the shells open. Add crabmeat and the white wine, cover and steam for an additional 3 minutes. Add desired amount of curry sauce to taste, bring to a simmer, and serve hot, with white or jasmine rice. Serves 2.

    Nutritional information

    Per serving: Per serving: 945 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 60 grams protein, 54 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fiber, 55 grams total fat (30 grams saturated), 271 milligrams cholesterol, 2,080 milligrams sodium.

    Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, from Apt. 4B, 2293 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC
    Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables, from Apt. 4B, 2293 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC

    Credit: Chris Hunt

    Credit: Chris Hunt

    Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables

    The combination of heavily seasoned fried fish and tangy pickled vegetables brings a layer of complexity to this dish.

    Fried Snapper with Pickled Vegetables
    • For the pickled vegetables:
    • 3 cups white vinegar
    • 2 1/2 cups cabbage, julienned
    • 1 cup red onion, peeled and julienned
    • 1/4 cup shallots, peeled and julienned
    • 2 Scotch bonnet peppers
    • 4 thyme stems
    • 4 whole cloves
    • 3 tablespoons lime juice
    • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
    • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • For the snapper seasoning:
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
    • 1/2 tablespoon Spanish paprika
    • 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
    • 1/2 tablespoon granulated onion
    • For the snapper:
    • 2 large snapper fillets
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
    • In a medium mixing bowl, combine vinegar, cabbage, onion, shallots, peppers, thyme, cloves, lime juice, lemon juice, garlic and brown sugar and let rest at room temperature for 4 hours or up to 2 days. Refrigerate unused portion.
    • In a small container, mix salt, pepper, paprika, coriander, and granulated garlic and onion together with a fork until incorporated, and set aside.
    • Pat fillets dry and liberally sprinkle with snapper seasoning on all sides.
    • Dredge fillets in flour on both sides and shake off excess.
    • In a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, fry fillets, skin-side up, about 2-3 minutes. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, turn skin-side down, and fry until browned and just cooked through, another 2 to 3 minutes, or until fillets register an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Serve immediately with pickled vegetables. Serves 2.

    Nutritional information

    Per serving: Per serving: 673 calories (percent of calories from fat, 35), 51 grams protein, 48 grams carbohydrates, 7 grams fiber, 24 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 81 milligrams cholesterol, 1,613 milligrams sodium.
    Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta, from the Buckhead restaurant Apt. 4B. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC
    Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta, from the Buckhead restaurant Apt. 4B. Styling by Rachel Levy / Chris Hunt for the AJC

    Credit: Chris Hunt

    Credit: Chris Hunt

    Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta

    Lamb is not a typical Caribbean dish, but the flavors of the rub have made it a crowd-pleaser.

    Herb Crusted Lamb with Polenta
    • For the polenta:
    • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
    • 3 tablespoons salted butter
    • 2 cups heavy cream, plus extra as needed
    • 1 cup of milk, plus extra as needed
    • 3 thyme stems
    • 1 large rosemary stem
    • 1 1/2 cups polenta
    • Salt to taste
    • For the lamb:
    • 4 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 large bone-in lamb chops
    • For the lamb rub:
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 1 teaspoon Mexican chili powder
    • In a large sauce pot over medium heat, saute garlic and butter for 2-3 minutes. Pour heavy cream and milk into pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add thyme and rosemary. Bring to a boil, again, and slowly whisk in polenta. Turn heat to low and cook until the grains have become soft, about 30 minutes. Add extra heavy cream or milk as necessary to produce the desired viscosity and add salt to taste.
    • In a small container, mix salt, cumin, coriander, allspice and chili powder together with a fork until incorporated and set aside.
    • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
    • In a large pan over high heat, add olive oil and wait until it becomes smoky. Place lamb chops in pan and sear on each side, rotating chops approximately every 1-2 minutes. Each side should reach a caramelized brown color. Once all sides are browned, place chops on a baking sheet with a wire rack and finish in the oven until desired internal temperature registers with a meat thermometer: rare (115-120 degrees); medium-rare (125 degrees); medium (130 degrees).
    • Remove chops from the oven and let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes.
    • To serve, moderately dust lamb chops with rub blend and plate with polenta. Serves 4.

    Nutritional information

    Per serving: Per serving: 881 calories (percent of calories from fat, 83), 21 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 82 grams total fat (43 grams saturated), 219 milligrams cholesterol, 885 milligrams sodium.

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