Gulf Coast Meets Southern Comfort

Blackened Gulf Shrimp and Green Tomato Fritters with Bacon Aioli

Being in the depths of the South we have many culinary advantages. Not only are we in a region where we can grow the best produce in the country, but we also have the Gulf of Mexico and its bountiful seafood harvest at our fingertips.

  When land and sea collide in the culinary world, it makes for such a phenomenal experience, especially when it comes to elevated Southern cuisine. The possibilities truly are endless when fusing fresh land and sea ingredients together. One of my favorite things to do is create out-of-the-box dishes with products local to me.

  I’ve written up a new spin on a traditional Southern dish that will make you feel as if you’re in a 5-star restaurant in your own kitchen. Don’t allow the photo to intimidate you – this dish is rather easy and will amp up your culinary skills a notch or two. Blackened Gulf shrimp over green tomato and onion fritters with bacon aioli is most definitely a great culinary mashup. 

Green Tomato Fritters Ingredients:
2 large green tomatoes, diced
1 medium-sized onion, diced
1 cup white cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional for heat)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
Vegetable oil, for frying

Green Tomato Fritters Directions:
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped green tomatoes, chopped onion, white cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper (if using). Mix well to combine.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg until well combined.
3. Pour the buttermilk and egg mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until a thick batter forms. The mixture should hold together when pressed, but not be overly wet. If needed, you can adjust the consistency by adding more cornmeal or buttermilk.
4. Heat vegetable oil in a deep pan or skillet over medium-high heat.
5. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil, forming small fritters. Flatten them slightly with the back of the spoon.
6. Fry the fritters for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they turn golden brown and crispy. Cook in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding the pan.
7. Once done, remove the fritters from the oil and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.

Bacon Aioli Ingredients:
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Bacon Aioli Directions:
1. Cook the bacon according to package instructions until crispy. Once cooked, drain on paper towels, and allow it to cool. Crumble the bacon into small pieces.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine the mayonnaise, minced garlic, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. Stir well to combine.
3. Add the crumbled bacon to the mayonnaise mixture and mix until the bacon is evenly distributed.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remember that the bacon already adds some saltiness, so adjust accordingly.
5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the bacon aioli for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
6. Once chilled, give the aioli a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Blackened Shrimp Ingredients:
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Blackened Shrimp Directions:
1. Preheat a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
2. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper, dried thyme, and smoked paprika. Mix well to create the blackening seasoning.
3. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
4. Dip each shrimp into the melted butter, coating both sides.
5. Generously sprinkle the blackening seasoning over both sides of each shrimp, pressing it gently to adhere.
6. Add the vegetable oil to the preheated skillet or pan. Carefully place the seasoned shrimp in a single layer, ensuring they have enough space between them.
7. Cook the shrimp for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until they turn pink and develop a nice blackened crust. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp, as they can become tough and rubbery.
8. Remove the cooked shrimp from the pan.

  Assembling this dish is quite easy! A shallow bowl makes for the best vessel. Pour a little aioli into the center of the bowl. Add a fritter to the bowl then add a little more aioli on top of the fritter. Repeat 2 more times. Once you have gotten to the third fritter, pour enough aioli on top to give a dripping effect. Then strategically place 3 blackened shrimp on top. Garnish with fresh parsley or mild micro greens to give your dish more color. Serve. 

Chelsea Gieselmann is a mom, photographer, columnist, food blogger, and home-cook. Cooking has been a passion of hers since she was old enough to cut out biscuits with the mouth of a mason jar. Her great-grandmother taught her the basics and she is ever so grateful to have been able to learn from her. Since then, she has honed in her craft a great deal and continues to. Instagram: @Southrngritskitchen

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