New Orleans Shrimp Po-Boy
Part 2: Putting It Together
History Of The Po-Boy
During the early years of the 20th century, two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, migrated to New Orleans from rural Raceland, Louisiana. When the Martins first reached the city, they found employment as streetcar conductors. Later, they opened a sandwich shop near the French Market and made a culinary discovery: if they concocted sandwiches out of the traditional loaf of French bread, with its tapered ends, the resulting sandwiches would vary in size. The solution was relatively simple: the modern, more or less symmetrical po-boy loaf, which could be cut into equal size sandwiches.
During the late 1920’s, the New Orleans streetcar conductors went on strike. The Martins vowed to feed their striking brethren for free. When one of the strikers entered their shop, the call went out: “Here comes another po-boy!”
The ingredients that go on a po-boy are virtually limitless, depending on one’s imagination: hot roast beef with gravy, ham and cheese (known in New Orleans as a “combination”), fried seafood (oysters, shrimp, soft shell crabs, catfish), hot sausage, meatballs–even French fries. When the New Orleans po-boy is “dressed,” the reference has nothing to do with fashion: “dressed” in New Orleans nomenclature means that lettuce, tomatoes, and mayonnaise are added. Po-boys are the great equalizers of New Orleans culture, consumed by workingmen, bankers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, Mardi Gras Indian chiefs, and Carnival Kings. What the finest po-boys have in common is bread baked by Leidenheimer, “Good to the last Crumb” since 1896.
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- 2 lbs (cleaned & deveined) Shrimp
- French Bread
- Shredded lettuce
- Sliced tomatoes
- 1/2 Milk or Butter Milk
- 2 Eggs
- 1 tsp Granulated Garlic
- 2 tsp Cajun/Creole Seasoning
- 1 c Yellow Cornmeal
- 1 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 1/2 Dried Oregano
- 1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
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- Rinse the clean and de-veined shrimp under cool running water. Set aside.
- For the batter, combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk thoroughly. Place shrimp in batter and place in the refrigerator for 30 mins.
- For the breading, combine all of the ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Before breading the shrimp, preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat with about 2 to 3 inches of vegetable or canola oil. (Tip: The oil must be hot for frying. Use a thermometer, which should read about 325 – 350 degrees or you can put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and if bubbles form around the handle then the oil is hot enough or you can sprinkle a pinch of the breading into the oil, if it sizzles then it’s hot.)
- Place shrimp into breading mixture in small batches and shake off the excess coating and place them on the rack or plate. Let them stay on the rack, or plate, for about 10 minutes. (Note: This will give the breading a chance to adhere to the shrimp.)
- Fry the shrimp in the batches, don’t crowd the oil. Cook the shrimp for about 2 to 4 minutes or just until they curl up and turn pink. Once done, remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel to drain.