Fried Okra, Eggplant, and Shrimp with Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 15 min
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Inactive: 30 min
  • Cook: 45 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Vegetable oil, for frying

For the Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce:

3 pounds Romanita tomatoes, cored (See Cook's Note)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 cloves garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons fresh oregano or basil leaves

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Fried Shrimp:

2 dozen medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, tips of the tails left intact

1 cup hot sauce

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup masa harina

2 tablespoons Essence, plus more for dusting, recipe follows

For the Okra:

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons hot sauce

2 eggs

1 cup all-purpose flour

Lemon wedges, for garnish

1/2 cup cornmeal

Emeril's Original Essence

32 okra pods, washed and cut in 1/2 lengthwise


For the New Orleans Fried Eggplant sticks:

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 large, long eggplant (about 2 pounds)

1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon Essence, divided


1 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and preheat fryer filled with vegetable oil to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce: In a small roasting pan, combine the tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic cloves, basil (or oregano) leaves, salt and pepper. Roast until the tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Once cooled, add the roasted tomatoes to the carafe of a blender and blend until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of water or chicken broth to achieve the desired consistency. Use immediately or cool completely and refrigerate for up to 4 days in a nonreactive, airtight container.
  5. The sauce is great on pasta as well as pizza and even makes a great dipping sauce for hors d'oeuvres. If you prefer a less rustic sauce, puree completely in blender and strain.
  6. For the shrimp: Add to a large bowl, the shrimp and 1 cup of hot sauce and toss to coat. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
  7. In a large bowl combine the flour, masa and Essence. Add the shrimp in batches, turn to coat evenly and shake off any excess flour. Cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  8. For the okra: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, hot sauce and the eggs. Add the okra, season with the salt and turn to coat evenly. Let the mixture marinate for 30 minutes.
  9. In another mixing bowl, combine flour, cornmeal and essence. Dredge the pieces of okra in the seasoned flour. Add the okra to the fryer and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes and lay out on a paper towel-lined plate. Season, if desired, with salt while it is still hot.
  10. For the eggplant: Preheat oil to about 360 to 375 degrees F.
  11. Peel the eggplant and cut in half lengthwise. Cut each half into 1/4-inch thick slices, lengthwise again. Cut crosswise to form shapes resembling French fries.
  12. Toss the slices with 1 teaspoon Essence and 1 teaspoon salt. Season the flour with the remaining tablespoon of Essence. In a shallow bowl, beat together the eggs and milk. Lightly dredge the eggplant in the flour and then add to the egg mixture and then back into the flour.
  13. Place the eggplant pieces into the fryer. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes and lay out on a paper towel lined plate. Season the eggplant, if desired, with salt while it is still hot.
  14. Serve the Fried Okra, Fried shrimp and Fried Eggplant with the Roasted Tomato Sauce.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

Yield: 2/3 cup
  1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch
  3. Published by William Morrow, 1993.

Cook’s Note

If Romanita tomatoes are unavailable, use a combination of Roma and grape tomatoes to approximate the sweetness of Romanitas, or use another type of sweet tomato, such as Amorosa.

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