Whether you call it a “Poor Boy,” or a “Po’ Boy,” this sandwich just hits the spot when you’re in the mood for a little bit of seafood, but you’re not ready for a big plate of fried goodness. Yes, we like our seafood here in North Carolina, but sometimes you’re just not ready for one of those big platters of “lightly fried and lightly battered” oysters, shrimp, fish, deviled crab, scallops, and clam strips. Yep, you can get all of it on one big platter from most any true seafood restaurant across the state. They’ll even add french fries or baked potato, coleslaw and a basket of hush puppies, just in case you’re hungry. How in the world do we eat it all?
Years back, we offered a “Captain’s Platter” at my brother’s seafood restaurant and it included ALL of the above-mentioned items. It was one of our most popular dishes and it contained a LOT of fried seafood. Sadly, you could get all of that back then, for what I paid for one pound of shrimp ($12.50) just a few days ago. My, how times do change.
Most folks in North Carolina seem to get a craving for seafood on Friday night. It’s become tradition to gather with family and friends, and make the trek to a local favorite seafood restaurant each week. But again, when you’re not up for all that food, perhaps our shrimp po’ boy will tame that hunger for a taste of the sea.
It’s likely you might balk at my use of lard to fry the shrimp in. To me though, it’s the ONLY way to fry seafood. Lard forces you to get your food out to the tables really fast. It has to be served piping hot. If the fried food starts to cool, the seafood will taste greasy. You most certainly don’t want that.
While I can’t give away any secret family recipes here, I do hope you’ll try our shrimp po’ boy sandwich recipe. I’m making a simple seafood breader, but you can most certainly use any of the ready made breaders on the market to make the recipe even easier. North Carolina is blessed with several companies that provide seafood breaders, hushpuppy mixes and more. I hope you’ll try a few of them along the way.
I’m not sure why a po’ boy comes packed between two huge pieces of bread. It’s practically impossible to pick up and eat it the way it’s prepared. Even if you could get it in your mouth, it’s probably going to fall apart when you lift it to try, so you’ll also need a fork.
Ready to taste some of the bounty of the sea? Alright then… let’s get cooking!
What you’ll need to make the dish:
- 1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow corn meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 tablespoons evaporated milk
- french bread or hoagie type rolls
- tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onions for toppings
- lard for frying
The above ingredients will be used to make the seafood breader, and to fry the shrimp. You’ll need some type of oil for frying, and of course a loaf of french bread. Toppings to “dress” the sandwich typically include, tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles or onions. Tartar sauce is often used as well.
To make the seafood breader: Start with a good size mixing bowl. Add the flour.
Add the corn meal. We’re using House-Autry brand yellow corn meal.
House-Autry also makes a complete seafood breader that you could use if desired, but we’re making this one from scratch. You can easily adjust the seasonings in this breader to your own personal preference. Go ahead, make it your own.
Use a fork, and stir the dry ingredients together really well.
Jumbo shrimp may need to be peeled, de-veined and rinsed. Smaller popcorn shrimp are most often used to make this sandwich. Just make sure you rinse well under cold running water. Drain them for a minute or two, and then place them in a bowl. Add the evaporated milk. You just need enough milk to be able to fully coat all of the shrimp you’re intending to use.
Toss the shrimp around in the milk, making sure you get each one fully coated with milk. Set aside until ready to fry. It’s best if the shrimp are at about room temperature before you apply the breader and fry them.
If you don’t have an electric deep fat fryer, a medium size sauce pot will work. You just need to be extra cautious when doing so to prevent any fires or damage. Here, I’m adding lard to the sauce pot. We always used lard when frying shrimp in the seafood restaurant. You’ll need enough to have about 3 to 4 inches of oil in the pot once it melts down. Place the pot over medium heat and use a thermometer to let the heat rise to 375ºF for frying.
When the lard is melted and up to temperature, stir the shrimp in the milk once again. Then, lightly shake off any excess milk and drop the shrimp into the breader.
Toss the shrimp around in the breader, making sure each one is fully coated with the breading mix.
Shake off any excess breader from each shrimp.
Place the coated shrimp on a single layer in a plate until the oil is hot enough for frying.
When the lard has melted and reached a temperature of 375ºF, carefully drop the shrimp into the oil. Be careful, it might splatter.
Using a slotted spoon, stir the shrimp around a bit to keep them separated. The shrimp will only need to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until they are a light golden brown in color. The shrimp will float to the top of the oil when they are done, which doesn’t take very long depending on the size of shrimp being used. Most of the time is spent letting them get that golden color. Just don’t let them overcook or they will be tough and chewy.
When lightly brown, use the slotted spoon to remove the cooked shrimp from the hot oil. Place them on a wire rack if you have one that doesn’t let them fall through, or place them on a brown paper grocery bag to let them drain. Placing them on paper towels will take away some of the crispiness of the cooked shrimp.
Assemble the sandwich: Now, let’s put it all together. Cut your bread to the desired length, then split it open. You can leave it hinged on one side if you like, but chances are the sandwich will be so full it will break open anyway.
Spread on a thick layer of Tartar Sauce. You can make your own with this recipe from Duke’s Mayonnaise. Click here for the recipe. Good stuff.
Place a generous layer of fried shrimp on top of the tartar sauce. It isn’t a good po’ boy unless it’s running over with shrimp.
Add some tomato slices. I personally like the little roma tomatoes. They’re perfect for small slices on our shrimp po’ boy.
Add a little shredded lettuce.
Red onion slices are then placed on top. They’re optional of course, just use what makes you happy.
Serve this shrimp po’ boy while still warm, and enjoy!