What is a po’ boy?
A po ‘boy is a typical sandwich of New Orleans. It consists of a baguette close to the French baguette garnished with crudités such as sliced tomatoes and green salad or white cabbage and topped with roast beef or fried seafood.
The version of the po’ boy with fried oysters is more generally called oyster loaf, peacemaker or La médiatrice. Po’boys are available everywhere in New Orleans. It can be found in bars, in delis or sandwich vending machines. It is a sandwich that can be prepared with family at home and is often found around family meals organized in the public gardens.
How to make a po’ boy
The preparation of a po’ boy begins with a good volume of oil for frying. For this, we combine flour, cornmeal, garlic and onion powder, hot pepper, salt and pepper. Separately, you will mix the eggs and buttermilk in which shelled shrimps are immersed. The egg will help get the flour and semolina stick around the shrimp.
After dipping them in the dry elements, the shrimps can be fried in very hot oil until they take a beautiful golden color and are very crispy. They are then drained on paper towels. The breads can then be reheated in the oven and then coated with garlic butter in a frying pan. We then add the rémoulade, crudités and fritters. The po’ boy thus prepared should be tasted immediately, otherwise you take the risk of losing the crisp texture of the shrimps.
What is the origin of po’ boy?
If the version with beef was very popular in the past, it has gone out of fashion since the 1970s to give way to fried seafood. However, it is the latter which is the oldest, the version with fried oysters is already mentioned in 1800 and appeared on the menu of restaurants at the time.
The name po’ boy is said to be the brainchild of Benny and Clovis Martin, former streetcar drivers from Raceland, Louisiana. During a strike in 1929, the two brothers allegedly prepared free sandwiches for their fellow strikers. They would have called their friends po’ boy, and that’s how these sandwiches took their name.
However, historians of New Orleans contest this version because for them the word po’ boy would not appear until 40 years later. The Martin brothers claim to be the inventors of the po’ boy. There is a letter from the two brothers dated 1929 where they promise to feed farmers and dockers in the region and yet there is no mention of the famous sandwiches.
In mid-November, the Oak Street po’ boy festival is a festival dedicated to this sandwich. You can enjoy them listening to music from local bands. It is also the occasion for the chefs to propose creative and original versions of po’ boy during a contest.
What are the versions of po’ boy?
The po’ boy sandwich designates more of a variety of baguette sandwiches than a precise recipe. Thus shrimp can be replaced by prawns, crayfish, lobsters, oysters, crab or pieces of fish and more generally catfish which in any case will be fried.
You can also substitute seafood for roast beef or pork. According to Sarah Rohan, author of the book Gumbo Tales, po’ boys can also contain duck meat, rabbit, or fried chicken, sausages or baked ham.
The po’ boy can be garnished with Creole mustard, melted butter, mayonnaise and may or may not contain raw vegetables, pickles, gherkins, lettuce, white cabbage or tomatoes.
In the beef-based version, the meat is cooked in a flavorful broth. Once cooked enough to be shredded by hand, it is coated with reduced cooking broth to keep it juicy and prevent it from drying out.
- 1½ lb large shrimp , shelled and deveined
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon white pepper (or black pepper)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 French baguette (8-inch individual size or large-size cut in 3)
- 3 oz. white cabbage , shredded (or lettuce, cut into pieces)
- 2 tomatoes , sliced
- Vegetable oil (for frying)
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- ½ lemon , freshly squeezed
- 1½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons relish
- 1 scallion , finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning (blend of paprika, oregano, thyme, chili pepper, garlic, salt and pepper)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic , chopped
Add a large volume of oil into a deep skillet and heat to 350 F.
- In a large salad bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, fresh garlic, garlic and onion powders, Cayenne pepper, salt and pepper together.
- In another bowl, mix the buttermilk and eggs.
- Dip the shrimps in the buttermilk and egg mixture, then lightly in the flour and cornmeal mixture.
- Deep fry the shrimp in hot oil until very slightly brown and crisp.
- Remove the shrimp from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a baking rack to keep them crispy.
- In a large bowl, combine the squeezed lemon juice, mayonnaise, garlic, relish, scallion, mustard, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, salt and Cajun seasoning.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and reserve the sauce in the fridge for one hour.
- Place the bread in the oven and lightly toast.
- Meanwhile, mix the garlic and butter, and heat in the pan for about 1 minute.
- Cut the 3 pieces of bread in 2 and spread the garlic butter.
- Spread generous the remoulade sauce on both slices of each bread.
- Place a few slices of tomato and some cabbage (or lettuce).
- Finally add the shrimp and serve.