Nostalgia can take our minds wandering at the most unexpected moments. Last week I couldn’t get po’boys (or poor boys) off my mind as I reminisced about balmy autumn days spent wandering the streets of New Orleans.
A po’boy, for those who haven’t travelled to Louisiana, is traditional Southern comfort food – a French bread roll filled with deep fried catfish, shrimp, oysters etc and topped off with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickles and mayonnaise. Of the many that I ate while in New Orleans, it was their consistent simplicity that won me over. But for the best in town, I couldn’t go past Parkway Bakery & Tavern. We were taken by my boyfriend’s family who insisted we couldn’t leave NO without a Parkway po’boy and I am so thankful that we didn’t. The soft, slightly chewy bread, the perfectly golden fried shrimp (or prawn, when I am speaking with Australians), crisp iceberg lettuce….well, let’s just say our conversation was forgotten when the food arrived.
So here’s my version – and I should probably explain that my boyfriend was generous enough to let me catch the first fish from his aquaponics system to use as the filling, accompanied by a few store bought shrimp (prawns). The fish we used, Silver Perch, has taken more than two years to mature and it was worth the wait. Thanks babe – you grow a good fish.
So while my po’boy recipe may not be as amazing as the infamous Parkway Bakery, I sure am glad we attempted it anyway, because for ten short minutes I was transported to the vibrant, jazz filled streets of New Orleans.
Perfect for an easy feast with friends – only to be paired with ice cold beers. Oh, and excuse my rushed photos, the hunger pains couldn’t wait for photo finessing…
2 fillets Silver Perch, or any firm white fish suitable to deep fry (skin removed)
12 prawns, shelled and deveined
1 cup plain flour
2 Tbs corn flour
1 Tbs salt
3 Tbs Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning, or any brand Cajun seasoning to substitute
2 Tbs milk
1 vine ripened tomato, sliced
2 handfuls iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 dill pickles, sliced
1 large French bread stick (not a baguette – the thicker, softer long roll), cut into roughly 20cm lengths, or two French bread rolls
Favourite condiments, i.e. mayonnaise, tomato sauce/ketchup, tartar sauce, mustard
- In a bowl, lightly whisk together eggs and milk.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour, corn flour, salt, Cajun seasoning and mix to combine.
- With one hand, dip the seafood into the egg mixture and then with the other hand into the flour mixture, ensuring seafood is well coated. Put onto a clean plate until ready to fry.
- Heat 3-4cm deep of vegetable oil in a saucepan until it reaches boiling temperature (dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil, if it bubbles, the oil is hot enough to deep fry). Gently drop the fish into the oil and fry for 2 minutes, then remove with a slotted metal spoon and drain on kitchen paper towel. Repeat process for the prawns in small batches until all the seafood is cooked. Prawns may only need 1 minute to cook, depending on size.
- To prepare po’boys, cut bread lengthways and layer fish, prawns, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles, then top with your favourite sauce.