In the late 1800s fried oyster sandwiches on French loaves were known in New Orleans as “oyster loaves”, a term still in use in the 21st century. A sandwich containing both fried shrimp and fried oysters is often called a “peacemaker” or La Médiatrice. Most likely the earliest known version of a po’ boy
A staple of New Orleans cuisine, the po’ boy sandwich harkens back to 1920s. The origin of the name is unknown. A popular local theory claims that “po’ boy”, as specifically referring to a type of sandwich, was coined in a New Orleans restaurant owned by Benny and Clovis Martin (originally from Raceland, Louisiana), former streetcar conductors. In 1929, during a four-month strike against the streetcar company, the Martin brothers served their former colleagues free sandwiches. The Martins’ restaurant workers jokingly referred to the strikers as “poor boys”, and soon the sandwiches themselves took on the name. In Louisiana dialect, this is naturally shortened to “po’ boy.”
Po’ boys usually features some sort of meat, though the type ranges from roast beef to fried seafood most often shrimp, crawfish, fish, oysters or crab to sausage, that’s served on baguette-like New Orleans French bread, known for its crisp crust and fluffy center. In New Orleans, the two primary sources of po’boy bread are the Leidenheimer Baking Company and Alois J. Binder.
New Orleans is known for its grand restaurants, but more humble fare like the po’ boy is very popular. Po’ boys may be made at home, sold pre-packaged in convenience stores, available at deli counters and most neighborhood restaurants. One of the most basic New Orleans restaurants is the po’ boy shop, and these shops often offer seafood platters, red beans and rice, jambalaya, and other basic Creole dishes.
It’s safe to say that I have a love affair with the cuisine of New Orleans. It is a magical place where the local residents like to say there are four seasons: Mardi Gras, crawfish, snowball and football — and they all revolve around food. Just give me a po’boy dressed and beignets with a steaming cafe au lait, and I am good…..
Serves 4 to 6
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup hot sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Creole seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 small loaves of French bread (or 2 larger loaves, halved)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 large tomato, sliced
2 cups lettuce, shredded
Dill pickle spears, for serving
Peel the shrimp, but leave the tails on, if desired.
With a sharp knife, make a shallow cut along the length of the back of a shrimp. Pull the dark vein out or scrape it out with the knife. Repeat with the remaining shrimp.
Rinse the shrimp under cold running water; pat dry and set aside.
Heat the oil to 375 ° F in a deep, heavy saucepan or deep fryer. Line a baking sheet or pan with a double layer of paper towels.
In a large bowl, combine the milk, hot sauce, and egg and whisk to blend.
Add the shrimp to the mixture and allow to stand for 3 to 4 minutes.
In another bowl, combine the flour and cornmeal with the baking powder, Creole seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Take the shrimp out of the milk and egg mixture and dredge in the flour and cornmeal mixture. Coat the shrimp thoroughly.
Drop several coated shrimp in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overcrowd the shrimp or the oil will take longer to return to temperature and the coating will absorb more oil.
With a slotted metal spoon, transfer the cooked shrimp to the paper towel-lined pan and repeat with the remaining shrimp.
Slice the baguettes into serving lengths and split.
Spread with mayonnaise and arrange 6-10 fried shrimp on the bread and top with tomato slices and shredded lettuce.
Serve with a side of the dill pickle spears and enjoy!
To “Dress” your po’ boy with the traditional lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. Hot sauce is optional.
Instead of dressing the po’ boy with regular mayonnaise, you can substitute with a traditional remoulade. To make the remoulade, combine 2/3 cups mayonnaise, 1/3 cup parsley, 2 tablespoons mustard, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, the juice of one lemon, and two chopped green onions in a blender. Process until a smooth consistency is reached, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Store the remoulade in a glass container covered, refrigerated.