Monday, June 13, 2011

The Fried Shrimp Po-Boy

Fried shrimp po-boy from Tracey's.
If the roast beef po-boy is the most infamous sandwich in the city, the fried shrimp version may be the most popular, especially with tourists trepidatious of dripping debris on their clothes. What better way to taste the bounty of our local waters than fried golden brown and stuffed between two halves of french bread? (To answer my own question, how about two halves of pan bread a la Casamento's?)

Let's break down what makes a top notch fried shrimp po-boy.

Shrimp Size - Bigger is always better, right? I'm not sure if that's necessarily true when it comes to fried shrimp. At one extreme are those who say that jumbo shrimp are preferred because they deliver a higher ratio of crustacean to coating. But it's tough to really "pile on" U-10s, and there's nothing more disappointing than finding only 6 shrimp in your po-boy, as large as they may be. On the other hand, popcorn shrimp were designed for over stuffed po-boys, and some purveyors (like Crabby Jack's) load up their loaves to the point more shrimp spill onto the butcher paper than stay between the bread. Of course, I like my shrimp sized medium.

The shrimp runeth over at Crabby Jack's.
Shrimp Coating - I like flour on shrimp and corn meal on fish. A thin coating is preferable to a thick batter and crunch is key. Bland is bad; if the coating on fried shrimp is not seasoned with enough salt and pepper, you may as well be eating paper mache. Additional spices - namely cayenne and lemon - are acceptable as long as they are not overpowering. But you know what I notice most about fried shrimp? Where the batter sticks to the shrimp.

Dressed - In my opinion, pickles are the most important dressing on a fried shrimp po-boy. You need that acid to cut through the fried goodness. Now, I go 2 ways when it comes to dressing. Option #1: "The Standard" - lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayo. Option #2: "The Purest" - buttered bread, pickles, and hot sauce. If I'm feeling wild and crazy, I may even opt for remoulade or tartar sauce. (Blasphemy!)

What are the criteria for your perfect fried shrimp po-boy and who serves the best one in town? We're all ears in the comments.

15 comments:

Donnie Boy Riguez said...

Yellow cheese

Good Eater said...

Parkway of course. Mayo, lettuce, tomato only. No pickles. And in second place, Charlie's Seafood. Amazing poboys worth the drive to Harahan.

Ned said...

I do enjoy Crabby J's shrimp poboy, but the shrimp are just too small to earn the title of my favorite shrimp poboy. That has to go to Parkway. Their shrimp are the perfect size and batter stays on the shrimp unlike some other shops. As for dressing, mayo is a must, and if you don't get mayo on your poboy; I do not trust you. If I wild out, I go for the reverse surf and turf: shrimp wit gravy. Still trying to get that added to the menu at parkway.

Wang said...

I like to let my (41-50) shrimps sit in a brine made with diluted Zat's liquid for half a day before breading.

Mostly flour, but with a little bit of corn meal in there too. Just a little. Salt, pepper, cayenne of course, and I like a healthy dose of onion powder in there.

Bread must be buttered and very lightly toasted, just enough to melt the butter, no browning. Light on the (shredded, always shredded) lettuce, 3 or 4 pickle slices, thin slathering of mayo on top.

And, yes, every once in a while, just a teeny tiny little squirt of ketchup down the middle. Don't judge me! :)

Hot sauce, I can take it or leave it in this particular case. Sometimes the mood strikes, but most of the time I skip it.

Anonymous said...

I must speak out against the pickles. That would ruin an awesome po-boy. For me, it's butter and ketchup only.

Rene said...

Donnie Boy,

There will be no yellow cheese on your po boy.

Thomas Cook said...

P-way brings the house down. For convenience sake, Guy's is just a phone call away and I choose the peacemaker (more like rainmaker) ala Acme. Tracey's is just down right garbage. The bread seems like its been sitting out for days and the old man just doesnt give a shit. I dunno about you but I enjoy a little entertainment with my food. Atleast amuse me for eating your food for once.

I'm a big fan of cutting the batter with pickles but a little lemon elevates the batter, especially when a few shrimp go AWOL. Also, there's something really special about the marriage between mayo and crystal. There's really no need for ketchup when you have crystal.

Ryan McCabe said...

I agree with every single thing written by Thomas Cook. As much as I want to love the shrimp po boy at Traceys, I just can't. I don't know where Tracey's buys, but they seem to have located shrimp with the most obvious, oversized, overloaded intestinal tracts imaginable.

willifred said...

Parkway has my go to.....3 of those guys were my tenants just after the storm while they were redoing it. Justin is a great kid. I suppose you may know this already, but if the line is too long, sit at the bar and you can get your order put in by the barkeep....you want a beer anyway

Rene said...

Willifred,

You are banned. That was the best kept secret in New Orleans, that wasnt really a secret.

mac said...

easy seafood in new orleans east has the best fried shrimp, bun, poyboy...

Andrew Lilly said...

You can get a pretty good shrimp po-boy at Radosta on occasion. I really think that place has some of the best sandwiches around.

hattie sparks said...

Parkway and its magic microphone will always trump everyone when it comes to fried scrimps. Perfect batter-to-shrimp ratio (nothing worse than biting into a fried shrimp and not actually finding a shrimp) and they have the filling quantity down to a science. As for dressing, I usually take some of the shredded lettuce off (too much and I feel like I'm eating a shrimp salad) and if the tomatoes are soggy/mealy, those go too. Otherwise, it's: mayo, Tabasco, non-soggy tomato, minimal lettuce, and extra pickles with some lemon squeezed on top. Man...I'm hungry now.

Anonymous said...

Peter,

No mention of R&O's in Bucktown??
That's blasphemous... Also, crystal/ketchup mixture at Domilise's blended w/ mayo and pickles kills it everytime..

hesaidshesaidnola said...

Parkway gets our vote. More importantly, 'tourists trepidatious of dripping debris' wins the alliteration award of the week. Maybe the month.