What is a Po’ Boy?

Po’ boys were invented in New Orleans in 1929, during a streetcar strike.  Apparently two brothers, Benny and Clovis Martin, streetcar workers themselves, set themselves up to feed their striking colleagues.   They created sandwiches stuffed into half loaves of New Orleans bread, which is somewhat similar to Italian bread or a baguette.   The story goes that one of the brothers would call out “here comes another poor boy” each time someone approached for a sandwich, but Southern accents and all, it sounded more like “here comes another po’ boy” and the name stuck.  

Shrimp Po Boy

What Kind of Shrimp to Use in a Shrimp Po’ Boy

You want shrimp that are not too large, nor too small.  Too small shrimp won’t give you that satisfying bite, but shrimp that are too large may cause the sandwich to fall apart, and are harder to eat.  You want shrimp that can fit into your mouth in one big bite!  Most shrimp you buy fresh at a seafood counter were previously frozen and defrosted, so don’t be concerned about purchasing good-quality frozen and thawing them for use in this recipe.

When you coat the shrimp in the milk-egg mixture, and then the flour mixture, use one hand for the wet ingredients, and another for the dry to keep everything from getting clumpy and sticky and messy.  

How to Fry Shrimp

Frying Shrimp for Po’ Boys

Ideally the temperature of the oil should be at 360 to 365 degrees to fry the shrimp so that they turn golden on the outside just as the inside is cooked but still tender.  If you don’t have a candy thermometer, just wait until the oil is shimmering, then add one shrimp.  If it starts to gently sizzle and turn golden brown after about 2 minutes, your oil is the perfect temperature.  

You may need to allow the oil come to come back up to temperature in between batches of shrimp.  Don’t add too many shrimp at once or they will lower the temperature of the oil, and the shrimp won’t get nicely browned and crunchy.  They cook very quickly, so fry them up in a few batches!

Shrimp Po’ Boy: The classic New Orleans sandwich, stuffed with lightly fried shrimp and dressed with all the fixings.

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How to Fry Shrimp

Best Bread for a Po’ Boy

In New Orleans they make a French-style bread that is typically used for po’ boys, and also just served as is.  It has much less fat and salt than other similar breads, and no preservatives, so its shelf life is very short.  You can use a baguette instead, or an Italian loaf.  Scoop out some of the fluffy bread from the middle if you wish before filling the sandwich; that’s a personal choice (but common in the po’ boy world of New Orleans, and it helps keep the filling in place).

How to Top a Po’ Boy

A dressed po’ boy usually means that the sandwich includes mayo or remoulade sauce, lettuce and tomatoes.  Other non-shrimp po’ boys have other condiments and companions sometimes used to “dress” the sandwich, but these toppings are very classic for a shrimp po’ boy.  You can also use another sauce in place of the remoulade, even though they are less traditional: try Tartar Sauce, Horseradish Sauce or Dill Sauce if you like.

Shrimp Po Boy

How to Make Shrimp Po’ Boys 

Slice a long loaf of Italian or French bread in half horizontally and lengthwise, then slice the loaf into sections.  Scoop out some of the fluffy bread from the middle if you wish.

Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl.  Mix the egg with the milk in another bowl and season with a bit more salt and pepper.  Place a wire rack on a baking sheet.

Dunk the shrimp in the milk mixture, turning them to coat,  then dredge them in the flour mixture, make sure they are well coated.  As the shrimp are breaded, place them, without touching, on the wire rack.  When all of the shrimp are coated, place the baking sheet into the fridge and let the shrimp chill for 15 minutes.

Line a large plate with paper towels.  Pour the oil to a depth of 1 inch into a large, heavy deep skillet.  Heat the oil over medium high heat to 365°F.   Cook the shrimp in batches until browned and crispy.    Remove them with a slotted spoon to the paper towel lined plate.  Continue frying until all of the shrimp are cooked and crispy.

How to Fry Shrimp

Spread some remoulade or mayo on the toasted bread.  Add some shredded lettuce to the bottom piece, then pile on the warm shrimp and tomatoes.  Top with a bit more sauce and a bit more lettuce if you like, and the top of the bread.  Serve immediately.

Shrimp Po Boy

What to Serve with Shrimp Po’ Boys:

Other Sandwich Recipes:

Shrimp Po Boy

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Shrimp Po Boy

The classic New Orleans sandwich, stuffed with lightly fried shrimp and dressed with all the fixings.
Yield: 4 People

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf French or Italian bread
  • 1 pound large (25/30 per pound) shrimp
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt , pus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying

To Top the Po’ Boys:

  • Remoulade Sauce or mayonnaise for serving
  • Shredded romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • Diced tomatoes

Directions

  • Slice the bread in half horizontally and lengthwise, then slice the loaf into 2 to 4 sections, depending on how big you want each sandwich to be. Scoop out some of the fluffy bread from the middle if you wish; that’s a personal choice (but common in the po’ boy world of New Orleans).
  • Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bowl. Mix the egg with the milk in another bowl and season with a bit more salt and pepper. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet.
  • A few at a time, dunk the shrimp in the milk mixture, turning them to coat. Using a slotted spoon or your hand remove the shrimp, allow any excess liquid to drip back into the bowl, then dredge them in the flour mixture, make sure they are well coated. As the shrimp are breaded, place them, without touching, on the wire rack. When all of the shrimp are coated, place the baking sheet into the fridge and let the shrimp chill for 15 minutes.
  • Line a large plate with paper towels. Pour the oil to a depth of 1 inch into a large, heavy deep skillet. Heat the oil over medium high heat to 365°F. (see Note) In a few batches, add the shrimp, turning them with a slotted spoon as they cook. They should fry for about 2 to 3 minutes total, and become golden brown and crispy. Remove them with a slotted spoon to the paper towel lined plate. See if they need another light sprinkle of kosher salt. Continjue frying until all of the shrimp are cooked and crispy.
  • Spread some remoulade or mayo on the toasted bread. Add some shredded lettuce to the bottom piece, then pile on the warm shrimp and tomatoes. Top with a bit more sauce and a bit more lettuce if you like, and the top of the bread. Serve immediately.

Notes

If you don’t have a candy thermometer, just wait until the oil is shimmering, then add one shrimp. If it starts to gently sizzle and turn golden brown after about 2 minutes, your oil is the perfect temperature. You may need to allow the oil to come to come back up to temperature in between batches of shrimp. Don’t overcrowd the shrimp; they need to be cooked in batches to fry up properly.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 473kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 227mg | Sodium: 1928mg | Potassium: 540mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 339IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 174mg | Iron: 6mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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