Before I begin, I have a simple question. What is your favorite Po Boy and where from?
This year I was able to attend a conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was my first time going to NOLA, and as most of the stories I have ever heard in the past really evolved around Bourbon Street, there were rare occasions where I would hear great stories about the food of New Orleans. In particular, stories about gumbo, red beans and rice, shrimp creole, and the muffuletta. There was one sandwich that really stood out among all of these dishes however, and that was the Po Boy, in particular the Po Boy sandwiches from Johnny’s. My wife and I were both hooked, there was no question about it. We were so hooked that we ate there several times, in a four day period! As were sampled the cheeseburger, roast beef, and shrimp po boys, and all extremely delicious to add, the shrimp po boy really stood out and appeared to be a favorite for the packed restaurant, and line out the door.
I began to study the texture of the fried shrimp, and couldn’t leave NOLA without getting a good handle on the simple flavors that made this sandwich dynamite. The bread, the dressing of lettuce and tomato, and the mayo. How easy? Two things to take away on the po boy, that indeed really make it great were the fried shrimp and the crispy, but soft bread.
As I was driving back from my dentist appointment the other day, something occurred to me. I was hungry, and hungry for a po boy. I already had my ingredients, but not the bread. I recall my colleagues at work state that one of the local sandwich shops sells day old bread on the cheap, and what could be better I thought than the perfect loaf of bread that was day old, allowing me to get the crisp that I was looking for, while at the same time providing the softness of the inside. Perfect match. Let’s get you started to making some really, near perfection, po boys.
- 1 lb shrimp (21-30’s work well), cleaned, deveined
- 1 loaf of good french bread
- Vegetable oil for frying, approximately 2 cups
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of Masa Harina (very fine corn flour used to make tortillas)
- 1 cup of fine corn meal
- 4 tbsp of Zatarain’s Creole seasoning
- 1 egg, plus 2 tbsp of water
- Thin sliced tomatoes
- Shredded head lettuce
- Good Creole mustard (optional)
- Sliced pickles (optional)
Begin my adding the oil to a medium sauce pan. Bring this to medium-high heat, near 350 degrees. In the meantime, get a dredging station ready. Add flour and the creole seasoning to one dish, the egg and water to another dish, beaten, and the masa harina and corn meal to the third dish.
This goes pretty fast, so want until you oil is ready to start the dredging process. Start by adding the shrimp to the flour, tossing to coat. Shake of any excess flour before placing them in the egg wash. Once move in the egg wash, toss them in the the third dish and toss to coat well. Shake of any excess before adding them to the oil.
These fry fast, only a few minutes before turning golden brown. Once they hit that state, remove them with a slotted spoon, and put on some paper towel to let drain. Lightly season with salt.
Slice your french bread down the middle but not all of the way through. Spread mayonnaise on both the bottom and top of the bread. Layer lettuce and tomatoes across the bottom. Stack on the shrimp. Get ready, because this po boy is a sure winner. You will tell right away by the perfectly fried shrimp.
As my wife and I began to eat these, we smiled and kind of giggled. She said you hit right on the spot! I guess taking your time to study the food you love really does pay off.
I hope you enjoy.