This is a dish best consumed without lipstick. Am I the only one who ends up with lipstick on their chin and their nose when eating a burger? The bold lip is my signature makeup look but is often at odds with my appetite for saucy sandwiches.
So, if you’re like me and have a penchant for fire-engine red lips, let me cut you off at the pass and advise you to forgo your favourite lip colour until AFTER you’ve mowed down on this baby.
The Po’ Boy comes from the rich culinary tradition of Louisiana. Now, I’ve never been to New Orleans but you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be eating my fair share of po’ boys when I go. This classic sandwich can be served hot or cold and is comprised of either fried seafood (shrimp, crab, crawfish or oysters) or roast beef. It’s always served on a French baguette and if it’s served “dressed” you can expect it to come with lettuce, tomatoes, mayo and pickles.
This Shrimp Po’ Boy has plenty of kick thanks to the cayenne used in the marinade and the batter. Lemon juice in the marinade, slaw and aioli adds a hit of acid that cuts the richness of the dish beautifully.
The shrimp are marinated in a combination of lemon juice, cayenne and vodka for two hours before frying. Vodka is a great addition to any marinade for fried foods because it helps food to become crispy.
When deep-frying, liquid in the batter vaporizes, this dehydrates the batter and makes bubbles that give it more surface area. Once dehydrated, the batter begins to brown and gets that crisp crust you want. Vodka is more volatile than water or other liquids commonly used in batters and marinades, as a result, it evaporates more quickly, which dries out the batter faster, creates larger bubbles, more surface area and helps you to achieve peak crispness.
I’m always keen to incorporate alcohol into my meals, all the better when it actually helps to achieve a more delicious result. Try to refrain from indulging too heavily in the vodka yourself though when making this recipe, frying can be dangerous business – you’ll want to have your wits about you.
You can prep the slaw and the aioli while your shrimp is marinating. Get ahead of the game by prepping the spice mix, flour and breadcrumbs at the same time.
Don’t set your pot of oil over heat until you’re nearly ready to fry, otherwise it will start to smoke and set off your alarm and integrated home security system. I have no interest in reliving that particular nightmare.
Avoid overcrowding the pot, fry the shrimp in two or three batches and leave a minute or two between batches for the oil to get back up to temperature. Once the shrimp are in the oil, they’ll only take 3 minutes or so to cook through and get a nice deep golden brown.
Wait until your shrimp are cooked to dress the baguette with the aioli and tomato, to prevent it from getting soggy. Once you’re ready to serve, be sure to provide a fat stack of napkins for your guests and yourself.
- 1¼ lbs large uncooked shrimp peeled and deveined
- about 31 to 40 count, thawed if frozen, rinsed
- and patted very dry
- 1 lemon
- ¼ cup vodka regular or lemon flavoured
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cups store-bought bag coleslaw mix
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp each salt and pepper
- About 8 cups vegetable or canola oil
- for frying
- 1 egg
- 4 tsp dried oregano
- 4 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1½ tsp garlic powder
- 1½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 garlic cloves crushed in a press
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 baguette about 20 inches long
- 1 to mato thinly sliced
1 Place shrimp in a bowl just large enough to hold them. Finely grate about 1 tbsp lemon peel overtop, then squeeze out 2 tbsp lemon juice. Stir with shrimp along with vodka and cayenne. Cover and marinate, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.
2 Meanwhile, place coleslaw in a medium bowl. Toss with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
3 In a very large deep-sided pot, add enough oil to measure about 1½ inches. Oil should not come higher than a third of the way up the pot (or use a deep-fryer and follow directions). Heat oil over medium heat to 350°F (180°C).
4 Drain shrimp, placing marinade in a medium bowl. Whisk egg into marinade. In a small bowl, stir spices with salt. In a large bowl, place flour. In another medium bowl place panko crumbs. Stir 1 tbsp spice mixture into flour and remaining into panko crumbs. Toss shrimp in flour mixture to coat. Then, working with a few shrimp at a time, dip in egg mixture, shaking off excess. Then coat in panko crumbs. Place coated shrimp on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining shrimp.
5 Once oil is hot (it will bubble when shrimp are added), add one-third to one-half of the shrimp to pan (don’t crowd pan). Fry, stirring occasionally until cooked through and a very deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining shrimp.
6 Stir garlic and lemon juice into mayonnaise. Split baguette in half lengthwise, keeping one side still attached. Spread both sides with aïoli. Top base with tomato slices, followed by shrimp, slaw and then top of baguette. Serve on a large cutting board for guests to slice themselves, or cut into serving- size pieces. Serve with hot sauce and lots of napkins.
Recipe from: Trim, Heather. "Shrimp Po'Boy with Crunchy Slaw and Lemon Aïoli." Food & Drink. Spring 2015.