First things first in case anyone from New Orleans happens to pass by this page. I know locals claim the bread is the most important thing in a Po' Boy, and I know the stuff I buy in a UK supermarket is probably nothing like it, but in the Po' Boy you have a damn fine sandwich - even with the wrong bread - and I'm not going to miss out on it just because the bread's not right - I hope you can forgive me.
The Po' Boy - as already mentioned - comes from New Orleans, it consists of meat or seafood in a local French style bread with lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise - this much is certain. When you start getting on to where the name comes from though it's not so clear cut. Some say the poor boys used their tips to buy them, others that the French of the region had sandwiches 'pour le boy', yet more talk of sandwiches given free to striking streetcar workers known as poor boys, more still say it comes from the French peace offering (pour boise) and that's far from all the stories. If the locals can't decide on its history though I certainly can't tell you anything more, I can tell you it's a damn fine sandwich though.
For my version, which I hope is pretty authentic, I had to make creole seasoning from scratch and recreated the creole mustard from a quick version I found somewhere on the web. The bread had to be off the shelf baguette and the prawns had to be plentiful, it doesn't make for a cheap sandwich but all photos I see of the real deal are overflowing with seafood. Outside of the cost it's not too much of a chore though eating 15 cornmeal coated and deep fried king prawns bursting out of a fresh french stick. It's a bit of effort to make but the work pays off as it really is a king among sandwiches, giving you spice, sweet seafood, fresh salad and loads of texture, not to mention a big feed (that's a large dinner plate in the photo).
Shrimp Po' Boy
Ingredients per po' boy (yes, per po' boy)
25cm/10" of baguette
15 king prawns
Lettuce, Tomato, Gherkin
Hot sauce eg Tabasco
Creole Seasoned Flour
2 TB flour
1/4 ts each of garlic powder, white pepper, paprika, salt, chili powder and oregano
Pinch of dried thyme
1 egg for dipping
4 TB flour
4 TB fine cornmeal/polenta
1 TB dijon
2-3 drops of Tabasco sauce
2-3 drops of Worcestershire sauce
In one bowl mix the flour and cornmeal, break the egg into another bowl and in a final one mix the creole seasoned flour.
Make the creole mustard.
Heat some oil to 180 C.
Put the prawns into the seasoned flour, then the egg and finally the cornmeal coating.
Deep fry until golden brown and cooked through, maybe 3-4 minutes. Remove, shake and drain on kitchen paper.
To construct first split the baguette, leaving it attached at one side otherwise it will be damn tricky to eat. Spread the bottom half with mayonnaise and the top half with the creole mustard. Place shredded lettuce on top of the mayo and then top with sliced gherkin and tomato. Place - well pile really - the prawns on top, give it a good splash of hot sauce if you want, and tuck in.