Everything you need to know about making your very own po' boy sandwiches

How to Make Po' Boys with Tom Colicchio

A po' boy or "poor boy" sandwich is a traditional Louisianian sandwich. The American classic almost always consists of meat (usually roast beef / chicken / ham) or fried seafood.

Famous chain restaurants like Hooters, Popeye's and Ruby Tuesday have caught on to the popularity of the sandwich, featuring menu items with a po' boy twist.

The traditional seafood versions of the po' boys are served hot and include fried shrimp and oysters.

Here's a Classic Fried Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwich recipe by Cooking and Beer:
Photo Credit: Cooking and Beer

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Total Time: 30 min
Yield: 4 sandwiches

  • canola or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound large shrimp, completely cleaned
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce (like Frank's Red Hot)
  • 4 hoagie rolls or french bread cut into fours and then cut lengthwise
  • 4 large green leaf lettuce leaves
  • 2 roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup dill pickles
  1. Pour enough oil into a dutch oven so that it comes up 2 inches from the bottom. Preheat oil over medium heat until it registers 360 degrees F.
  2. While your oil is heating up, prepare your shrimp. Season the shrimp generously with salt and black pepper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, creole seasoning and cayenne pepper. Split the mixture evenly into two smaller bowls. In another bowl, add the beaten eggs.
  3. Add the shrimp to one of the bowls with the flour mixture and toss. Then transfer the shrimp to the bowl with the eggs and turn to coat. Lastly transfer the shrimp to the second bowl with the flour mixture. Toss until the mixture adheres, pressing to adhere where needed.
  4. Fry the shrimp in batches until they are cooked through and golden brown, which won't take long, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of any excess grease.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo and cayenne pepper sauce. Slather the mayo mixture onto the 4 hoagie rolls and then top with shrimp, lettuce, tomato and pickle. Drizzle with more cayenne pepper sauce if desired.
  6. Enjoy immediately!
Bonus tip: Pair the sandwich with a balanced pale ale. A pale ale's subtle hoppiness will compliment the heat!

Not all seafood po' boys are fried. In fact, if you're looking for a lighter version of this sandwich, you can try this sautéed shrimp variation by Dessert For Two.
Photo Credit: Dessert For Two

Time: 15 min
Serves: 2

  • 2 wheat rolls
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened, divided
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons cajun creole seasoning
  • 6-7 ounces shrimp, cleaned and tail-less
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, fresh, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • onion, chopped, to taste
  • tomato, chopped, to taste
  1. Split the wheat rolls and butter the insides with half the butter. Toast the bread in a warm oven.
  2. Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise and Cajun seasoning and set aside.
  3. Preheat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining butter to the skillet. When it starts to sizzle, add the shrimp and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. After 1 minute, stir the shrimp and let them cook on the other side for another 1-2 minutes. Do not overcook. When done, add the lemon juice and stir.
  4. Assemble sandwiches: To each side of the bread, spread the mayonnaise mixture. Top with lettuce, shrimp, then onionsand tomatoes. Serve hot.
Another delicious way to enjoy a po 'boy sandwich is trying the fried oyster version. Here's a really great recipe by My Gourmet Connection.

Photo Credit: My Gourmet Connection

  • 2 dozen fresh oysters, shucked
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Oil for frying (see recipe notes)
  • 2 medium ripe tomates, thickly sliced
  • 4 hoagie rolls (6-inch), split and lightly toasted
  1. Combine the cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs, salt, cayenne and paprika in a pie plate. In another pie plate, whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Add the oysters to the egg-buttermilk mixture and turn gently with a large spoon to coat. Remove the oysters, one by one from the egg mixture with a pair of tongs and place in the crumbs. Turn several times to coat evenly with the crumb mixture, then transfer to a plate and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. While the oysters "rest," make the garlic-onion slaw. Place the cabbage and sliced onion in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, sugar and hot sauce. Add to the cabbage-onion mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Set aside until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
  3. Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet to 350°F (medium-high). Test the temperature of the oil by adding a pinch of the dry crumb mixture - if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Add 1/2 the oysters and fry until golden brown and crispy, turning once, about 2-1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot very gently. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
  4. To assemble the sandwiches, line each roll with tomato slices and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Add a portion of the garlic-onion slaw and top with 6 oysters. Serve immediately.
Here are some tips for frying the oysters:
Po' Boy Sandwiches
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Everything you need to know about making your very own po' boy sandwiches
Handle them gently so they remain juicy and plump and be sure to allow the resting time once they're coated with the crumb mixture. This helps the coating adhere better and takes the chill off the oysters so they don't cool down the oil as much when added to the pan.
Add enough oil to the pan to be equal to about 1/2 the thickness of the oysters. In most cases 1/4-inch depth works well, but if your oysters are especially plump, you may want to add a bit more.
Work in batches and don't overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding will lower the temperature of the oil too much. This can cause the coating to fall off and the oysters to absorb more oil than they should.
Turn the oysters over with tongs when you start to see a little moisture form on the upper side - about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes should do it.
You can keep the cooked oysters warm by putting them on a baking sheet in a single layer and placing them in a preheated 250°F oven for the few minutes it takes to cook the next batch. Just don't cover them, they'll get soggy.
If you have an electric skillet, by all means use it. The precise temperature control will provide excellent results.
If you don't want to make a po' boy sandwich at home, there are plenty of restaurants that have adopted their own delicious version of the po' boy as well. In fact, there are round-ups of the best po' boy sandwiches in just about any major city. If you happen to find an incredible one near you, be sure to leave it in the comments below!

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