I keep cooking New Orleans food and the Saints keep winning. I’ll have to sneak in a starter or dessert to my family’s tiny celebration on Thursday to make sure the luck doesn’t wear out for the Cowboys-Saints faceoff. We’re already doing the turkey so any suggestions would have to be either easy or quick to pull off.
Yesterday, between the intermittent signature Sportscenter beeps from my phone, I finally got around making shrimp po’boys. Po’boys – for the uninitiated – are sandwiches made with French bread, stuffed with either fried seafood, roast beef with gravy and drippings (‘debris’)… pretty much anything that can be stuffed into a sandwich. If you order them ‘dressed’, they will come out with at least mayo, lettuce and tomato. I became addicted during my last two years of college to the fried shrimp po’boys in Favori, a tiny convenience store on Maple St. and Cherokee, almost right across the street from Phillips and PJs.
The Puerto Rico bread baking tradition includes our pan de agua, which is a take on the French baguette. With its crusty exterior and soft insides, it is a perfect stand-in for po’boys. I should have toasted lightly the individually prepared sections, but because it was still very fresh I chose not to. I already bought my shrimp peeled and deveined, so after defrosting I removed the tails (saving them for stock), and seasoned with salt, black pepper, and a timid shake of cayenne pepper sauce.
After submerging the shrimp in an egg white wash, I dredged them in a half all-purpose half corn flour mixture seasoned with Cajun seasoning and let them rest for a bit while I dressed the French bread with mayo, tomatoes, and (gulp) avocado. I was out of lettuce and I couldn’t go a perfectly good avocado go to waste. In a food culture like Louisiana’s, where ingredients are stretched and wasting food is taboo, these deviations from tradition cannot be completely frowned upon. (The Saints won too, so I don’t think the NO food gods were that upset with my ‘offering’).
A view of the ‘sacrilegous’ shrimp po’boys with avocado
No po’boy meal would be complete without a handful of chips. We got a bag of Dirty Chips, which is the brand name used by the Zapp company to market their products outside of Louisiana/US South. We’re fans of the salt/vinegar variety.