“Fried shrimp po’boy, dressed please” was my order to just about every waitress when being asked what I woud like to eat as a kid.
Sure, I went through a steak with sour cream phase but not every dive in New Orleans (NOLA) is slinging rib-eye, but you can guarantee there’s a po’boy on the menu.
So, what is this magical po’boy?
In 1929 the Street Car Union in NOLA went on strike leaving many workers broke and hungry. So locals started stuffing loaves of french bread with ham/cheese or fried seafood since there’s so much of the stuff and carries a short shell life. The workers would come in to these places and the chef would call out, “another poor boy” and soon the sandwiches took on the name. What a blessing that strike was…
Most popular po’boys- fried shrimp, oyster, catfish, blackened catfish, and roast beef. Ordering your po’boy “dressed” implies- mayo, lettuce, and tomato. Have any of you tried the BBQ shrimp po’boy at Liuzza’s by the track? It’s THE BEST po’boy on the market.
Fried Catfish Po’boy ::
- french bread, preferably from Leidenheimer Baking Co.
- 2 catfish fillets, cleaned
- 1 egg
- big splash of milk
- Tony’s, or other Creole seasoning
- hot sauce
- iceberg lettuce, shredded
- tomato, sliced
- peanut oil, for frying
Heat oil to 350°. You can pan fry or deep-fry the fish. Pan fry is less clean-up but deep-fry will give you a better result. Just make sure to use at least 1.5 inches of oil.
Set your fish station up. In a bowl lightly beat together the egg, milk and a big dash of hot sauce.
Place a cup or so of flour on a plate and season your fillets on both sides with Tony’s. Take the fillet, lightly coat it in flour shaking off excess, put in egg/milk wash, back in the flour and to the heated oil. Try to do this with one hand so both aren’t gooey and you work cleaner.
If the oil isn’t hot enough the fish will come out soggy. Test the oil by dropping a tiny bit of flour in it. If it instantly sizzles, it’s ready. If not, wait a few more minutes, but don’t get it to the smoking point.
While the fish is frying assemble your sandwich. Lightly toast the bread, add a generous amount of mayo, and on the bottom slice add your tomato slices and lettuce.
Once the fish starts to brown on the sides gently flip it over and continue to fry. Cooking time depends on the size of the fillets. For a 6” fillet, about 3-4 minutes on each side should do the trick.
Transfer fillets onto a cooling rack or plate with napkins to absorb oil. Give the fillets a big squeeze of lemon and a light sprinkle of salt.
Once the fish has slightly cooled add it to your stacked loaf and serve with lemon wedges on the side.
*Here in Buenos Aires, the catfish is somewhat… different. Merluza is a great substitute and is best prepared fried and smothered in spicy creamy tomato Creole sauce. Recipe to come!
Photo was taken by Lili at the last New Orleans Night I hosted here in Buenos Aires.
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