Treat Yourself to Shrimp Po'Boys
Splurge time! Any night is the right night to fry up a batch of spicy, perfectly juicy, crispy coated shrimp. Pile them high in sandwich rolls with remoulade sauce and the fixings, and sink your teeth in.
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Article, recipes, and photos by Marrekus and Krysten Wilkes of Cooks with Soul
Given that we’re major fans of New Orleans culture, and given that po’boys are a staple in Louisiana cuisine, it was only right for us to fall in love with these historic, super simple, yet so delicious sandwiches.
The po’boy has had so much influence in New Orleans that there’s even an annual festival dedicated to it. Today the sandwiches can be found primarily in Louisiana but also along the Gulf Coast from Houston to the Florida Panhandle, with menu sightings as far as California.
Credit has been given to Benjamin and Clovis Martin for originating the sandwich called poor boy — later dubbed po’boy — possibly as far back as 1929. Though the exact details of this sandwich’s origins have been disputed, the one constant in any debate is the type of bread that is used. In order for the sandwich to be considered a true po’boy it must be made with New Orleans French bread. Not to be confused with an ordinary baguette, the city’s style of French bread is made with less flour and more water than typical French bread, which produces a lighter and fluffier bread. Dating back to the 1700s, this style of bread was developed in the Gulf South and has become a staple in Cajun and Creole cuisine. (The current local pick for best New Orleans po’boy bread is the Leidenheimer Baking Company.)
The time we spent in New Orleans gave us the opportunity to try out different types of po’boys. These sandwiches can be filled with just about anything, from roast beef, boudin sausage, and burgers to fried catfish and fried crawfish, but our favorite is fresh and crunchy fried shrimp.
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Ingredients for Shrimp Po’Boys
Though there are several variations of the po’boy, there is nothing like taking a bite of a sandwich filled with sweet shrimp. Here’s what you need to make the recipe.
The bread. If you can’t get your hands on traditional New Orleans French bread, then check with your local baker for a loaf of French bread or rolls, the fresher the better. Or if that isn’t available, grab some nice, fluffy hoagie rolls. I have also seen companies online that will ship New Orleans French bread, so if you have the time, I highly recommend ordering some and having it shipped for the full New Orleans-style po’boy experience.
The shrimp. Next, you want to make sure that you are using some good seafood. When we lived in Florida we were able to get our hands on fresh seafood daily and used to get Gulf shrimp to make this sandwich, but frozen shrimp will work just fine. Make sure your shrimp are thawed, peeled, and deveined. I am a firm believer in the bigger the better, so grab some jumbo shrimp (16-20 per pound).
The batter. One thing that stands out the most when it cames to the fried shrimp po’boy in New Orleans is how light and crunchy the batter is. Taking that into consideration, we went with a flour, egg, and panko breadcrumb batter. Sticking with tradition, we kept the seasoning amazingly simple, using our The Boot Cajun seasoning, but you can go with any favorite Cajun or creole seasoning.
The fixings. Po’boys are served “dressed,” meaning with lettuce, tomato, pickles if you like (hamburger dill or bread-and-butter), and mayonnaise. The remoulade sauce is where we strayed off the traditional course (from the usual mayo), because we absolutely love the stuff. In case you’re not familiar with it, remoulade is a mayonnaise-based sauce that contains Cajun or creole spices and herbs, jazzed up a bit with things like hot sauce and capers. Here in the South we can buy it at just about every grocery store, but if it’s not available in your area, it’s easy to make your own.
The simplicity of these sandwiches is what make them a great meal or snack for any occasion. When you decide to create your own po’boys, be fearless, as your options are unlimited. Feel free to add fried onion straws, fried green tomatoes, bacon, tartar sauce, malt vinegar, you name it.
How to get perfectly crispy fried shrimp
Cooking shrimp goes quickly, and to keep them juicy as well as crisp, you do not want to overcook them. Working in batches is the way to go. Get them coated in the seasoned flour, then give them a dip in the eggs, and lastly in the breadcrumbs to add that perfect crunch.
Once you get them all seasoned and breaded you want to make sure that your oil is at around 360°F and maintains this temp throughout the cook to prevent soggy shrimp.
Fry your shrimp in small batches, making sure not to crowd the skillet or fryer and drop the oil temperature too much.
More secrets to the best Shrimp Po'Boys
While your shrimp are cooking, go ahead and get your rolls buttered and ready to toast. Toasting the bread gives it some more sturdiness so that you can really pile those shrimp and toppings high.
When building a po’boy I like to have sauce and toppings in every bite, so be generous with that remoulade sauce. Get a nice coat on the rolls. Next you want to top that with your lettuce and any other condiments that you want to add. Again, the key here is making this sandwich your own. Then start piling on the shrimp, and finally, add more of the remoulade.
Get the recipe
Po’boys can be served with fries, chips, or whatever sides you would like, but one thing’s for sure: Once you bite into this delicious sandwich, you will be in New Orleans paradise right in your own kitchen.
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