The “Poor Boy” sandwich (or Po’ Boy, as it’s commonly known today) was first created when a pair of New Orleans restaurateurs threw their support behind union streetcar drivers during a labor dispute in 1929.
Benny and Clovis Martin, owners of the French Market Restaurant, were sympathetic to the strikers and vowed to feed them. Whenever one of the striking workers entered the restaurant, the staff would call out “Here comes another poor boy.”
Though the sandwich was on the menu prior to the strike, according to Nola.com, the name was coined during the strike. And it didn’t take long for the phrase to go from Poor Boys to Po’ Boys, due to the accents of those who originally coined the phrase.
While we may not be geographically close to New Orleans or share the streetcar union concerns of 1929, we can certainly enjoy the history and empathize with appreciation for a mighty fine sandwich with a rich history. Isn’t it great that history can be influenced by food and vice versa, no matter what the circumstances are?
Po’ Boys usually consist of meat, whether it be beef, fish or crawfish. Like New Orleans, we have access to locally sourced crab, shrimp and oysters that add to our options for a great sandwich. Prepared fried, sautéed, baked or grilled, the choice of meat is served on a soft French bread roll with lettuce, tomato, pickles and some vary with sauce options.
Our own version shared here, served at the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino’s The Kitchen, uses Cajun-infused cornmeal breaded fried shrimp on a soft French roll with lettuce, tomato and pickles with a zesty Remoulade sauce. Remoulade (we are giving the farm away here) is a French sauce derived from the word Remolat — for horseradish, in the Picardy region of France. The result is a tasty sandwich with an enticing flavor balance and the expected “kick” of horseradish.
Shrimp “Poor Boy” Sandwich
For spice mixture:
2 tablespoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
3 teaspoons granulated garlic
3 teaspoons granulated onion
3 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dry thyme
Pinch of cayenne
Put all ingredients in a small dish and mix.
1½ pounds 31/40 shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup buttermilk
⅔ cup spice mixture, divided
2 tablespoon hot sauce (We use Frank’s brand)
¾ cup cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
For Remoulade sauce:
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup prepared horseradish
½ cup Creole mustard (or Dijon)
2 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons Hot sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
6 green onions, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cups mayonnaise
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Dill pickles or dill pickle relish
In a bowl add the shrimp, buttermilk, half of spice mixture and hot sauce. Mix the cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
While the shrimp are chilling, prepare the remoulade. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the remoulade, cover and refrigerate until needed.
Add a couple inches of frying oil to a deep skillet or Dutch oven, slowly bring it to a hot temperature.
In a shallow bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal and the other half of the spice mixture, then dredge each shrimp (making sure to shake off any excess buttermilk) in this mixture and set aside.
Fry the shrimp in batches in the hot oil until deeply golden brown on both sides.
Split the French roll lengthwise, add desired amount of remoulade sauce to each side of the roll, place sliced pickles on bottom roll, layer on three tomato slices, ¼ cup of shredded lettuce and top with 6 to 8 pieces of the golden fried shrimp.
Suggestion: Warming the bread makes for a softer interior texture with a crunchy top.
Diane Lasswell is assistant director of kitchen operations at Quil Ceda Creek Casino in Tulalip.