This last bout of chilly weather got me feeling quite restless. While I accept my fate as a northwesterner, obliged to walk the drizzly streets in sandals and a raincoat, willing the weather to be warmer and drier, knowing full well that it won’t comply until it darn well feels like it, I can’t help but let my mind wander to places not-quite-here.
On a particularly cold, drizzly “poor me”-inducing sort of evening, I resolved that the only immediate cure to the gray day blues would be to bring a little bit of the south into my home. I’ve never made a New Orleans Po’ Boy in my life, nor am I experienced in the arts of the deep fry, but desperation sent me scanning my brain for something with a little spice. Po’ boys popped into my head as I already had the basics: Shrimp and a good baguette. I reviewed a few recipes and saw that the whole concept of the po’ boy is ingeniously no fuss, really – Meat, bread, mayonnaise or a remoulade. I took some tips from Bon Appétit on frying my shrimp and went from there. Traditionally the shrimp might be a bit larger but I happened to have some smaller “baby” shrimp in my freezer. I thawed and drained those well. I also wanted some heat, so instead of just dousing the sandwich in hot sauce I decided to make a spicy cabbage Sriracha slaw instead. The crunch from the hot fried shrimp and the cold creaminess of the slaw made for a euphoric finger-licking experience. Po’ boys are a little messy. I’ll just warn you in advance.
Shrimp Po’Boys with Spicy Sriracha Slaw
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Vegetable oil for frying
1 1/2 pounds small shrimp, pre-cleaned/peeled.
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 head of green cabbage, finely shredded.
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Sriracha
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
Fresh ground pepper
1 Baguette, split, cut into 4 pieces.
1 Tomato, cut in half then sliced
Whisk first 8 ingredients in a small bowl to blend and set aside. Add about 2” oil to heavy bottomed pot (dutch ovens work well). Heat oil over medium heat to 350°. A deep fry thermometer would be best, but I just estimated the temp by using a regular meat thermometer as well as the sizzle factor of the oil when I dropped in a piece of shrimp.
While the oil is heating up, place shrimp and 2 Tbsp. spice mix in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Pour buttermilk into another medium bowl. Whisk flour and cornmeal in another medium bowl.
Dip seasoned shrimp briefly in buttermilk, then coat with flour mixture. Working in batches, fry shrimp, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
In another bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, Sriracha, vinegar and salt/pepper, then add the shredded cabbage and incorporate well.
Open the baguette and line one side with tomato slices. Add a line of slaw on the other and fill the center of the sandwich with shrimp. Be generous! More is better when it comes to fried shrimp and po’boys. May this sandwich whisk you away to someplace hot like it did for me.