Walking to New Orleans
More than anywhere in the US, New Orleans has been a mecca for food and some of the most known chefs we’ve seen in the media. Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Susan Spicer, etc. There is no doubt that Cajun and Creole cuisine has made a huge impact on American culture.
My own exploration into Louisiana started with Jambalaya, but I’ve been more fascinated with the New Orleans staple of the Po’Boy. A submarine sandwich with its roots buried in a 1929 streetcar strike and later the Great Depression, it as unique in my opinion as the Chicago style hot dog.
The name itself comes more as Southern slang for “poor boy”, as it was a simple sandwich made with inexpensive ingredients for those with little money to spend. They key to making one perfectly is in using the right ingredients within reason. The traditional po’boy is generally made on a nice lightly toasted French loaf of bread. Batter-dipped fried shrimp or oysters are the general favorites, and you top it with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo. Spicy mustard if you like yours with a kick.
Now while that combo is the traditional, a po’boy isn’t just limited to fried shellfish. You can use roast beef with gravy instead, or even other meats to your liking. One restaurant even made a tasty po’boy with chicken livers and a spicy coleslaw.
I’ll get into that idea down the road, but today I wanted to more do a po’boy in my own fashion. As much as I enjoy an occasional hit of fried food, I try to avoid it for my own health. Not to mention I also try to eat whole wheat or multigrain bread over white. Maybe some po’boy fans won’t like this, but health-conscious folk will. The rest of you are free to bring in the white bread and frying oil if you please.
I actually found these wonderful whole-wheat French baguettes at Target of all places. They cut nicely and make a beautiful sandwich. I used romaine lettuce over iceberg simply to get my dark greens, and fat-free mayonnaise. In terms of meat, I found the small size shrimps do wonderfully, and I ended up sautéing them in seasonings. I’d also toss out there the idea of buying medium or large shrimp, and grilling them.
In any case, you’re free to make your po’boy any way you like, but here’s how I do mine:
Sautéed Creole Shrimp Po’Boy
- 8 ounces of shrimp, tails cut off and veins removed
- 1 tsp of paprika
- 1 tsp of thyme
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp of granulated garlic
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 French baguette (approximately 6″-8″ long)
- 3-4 slices of tomato
- A few leaves of lettuce
- 1-2 tbsp of mayonnaise
- Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels or a kitchen towel.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the paprika, thyme, salt, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and garlic.
- Place the shrimp in the seasonings and toss until shrimp are coated.
- In a skillet or frying pan, heat up the olive oil on medium heat.
- Place the shrimp in the oil and sauté until fully cooked.
- Slice the baguette in two and place in a hot oven or on a hot surface until lightly toasted.
- Assemble your sandwich with the mayonnaise, shrimp, and vegetables.
There isn’t really a whole lot of “rocket science” to making this sandwich. The real key is the have the right ingredients. The French baguette is ideal, but if you cannot find a decent loaf, perhaps try the larger sausage buns usually meant for brats and Italian sausage.
I used small shrimp on mine simply because they make for a nice sandwich, but you’re free to use larger ones if you wish.
There’s really no “deep rules” to this. If you’re not into seafood, try chicken or beef. I will get into other variations in future articles. Also feel free to change the seasoning to your liking. If you’re using bigger shrimp, try grilling them or place a sheet of foil on your grill and then your shrimp on top.
Recommended mustards (if you want some) would either be Zatarain’s Creole Mustard, or Gulden’s.