In a large pot, heat the oil. Fry the okra, stirring constantly, for 10 to 12 minutes or until most of the slime disappears. Season with Essence. Add the tomatoes, onions, and celery, stirring occasionally, cook for 18 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are wilted. Season with salt and cayenne. Add the bay leaves, thyme, garlic and water. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 30 minutes. Serve with rice and garnish with green onions and Essence.
Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
Yield:about 2/3 cup
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.
Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.