The New Orleans po’boy is a classic deep-fried oyster sandwich. It is most likely a variation of the famous “oyster loaves”. These deep-fried oysters on French loaves were popular in the city way back during the late 1800s already. The exact origin of the name po’boy is uncertain but one theory states that it started with two brothers who served these deep-fried oyster sandwiches from their restaurant to striking streetcar conductors during the strike of 1929.
Both Martin brothers have been streetcar conductors prior to entering the restaurant trade. Allegedly they referred to their former colleagues as “poor boys”. In the New Orleans dialect, this got shortened to “po’boy”. The strikers must have loved these sandwiches because their strike lasted four months. The name stuck and today the po’boy is one of America’s classic sandwiches. They come in all shapes and sizes and with fillings ranging from BBQ to Oysters and Shrimp.
One earlier version of the deep-fried oyster sandwich was called a “peacemaker”, or “La Mediatrice”. Apparently, at the time, it was customary for New Orleans men to bring home an oyster loaf after a night of drinking to appease their wives. The loaf was cut in half, hollowed out to accommodate more filling, buttered and stuffed with hot oysters and pickles.
Deep-fried oyster sandwichCourse: MainCuisine: Namibian, Creole, AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This deep-fried oyster sandwich is a meeting of two great things: Namibian oysters and New Orleans culture. It does not get any better.
- The Oysters
24 large oysters, shucked
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
3⁄4 teaspoons dried thyme
3⁄4 teaspoons dried oregano
3⁄4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
3⁄4 teaspoons chilli powder
1 cup fine yellow mealie meal (polenta)
1 cup flour
3 large eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons salt (to taste for seasoning), plus more to taste
1 tablespoon black pepper (to taste)
Sunflower oil (for frying)
- The sandwich
2 French baguettes, cut into 3 equal portions each
1 cup fresh crispy lettuce (e.g Romaine or Iceberg), finely shredded
2 large fresh sweet tomatoes, sliced thinly
- The Remoulade Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
2 spring onions, minced
¼ cup celery, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons dill pickles, chopped finely
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 teaspoons capers, drained and minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes hot sauce such as Tabasco (optional to taste)
- The Remoulade Sauce
- Combine the mayonnaise, spring onions, celery, parsley, dill pickles, vinegar, mustard, capers, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a bowl. Set aside.
- The Oysters
- Whisk together the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic and onion powders, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, chilli powder, polenta and flour in a large bowl and make sure all ingredients are well blended. Break the eggs in a separate bowl, add about 1 teaspoon of water and whisk to make an egg wash.
- Set up a breading station consisting of a bowl with the shucked oysters, the bowl with the egg wash, the bowl with breading and seasoning, and a cooling rack to place the breaded oysters on. Start breading the oysters allocating one hand for the wet ingredients (the egg wash) and the other for the dry ingredients (the seasoning and breading). Place on oyster first in the egg wash and make sure it is well covered. Lift the oyster from the egg wash with the wet hand and shake off some of the excess egg, then place it into the dry mix. Shake the bowl to make sure it gets well covered with seasoning and breading. Place the breaded oyster on the drying rack. Repeat this process until all oysters are well breaded. Place the rack with oysters in the refrigerator for one hour to allow the breading to set.
- When you are ready to fry the oysters, add 5 cm of oil to a heavy-bottomed or cast iron pot set over medium heat. Fit a deep-fry thermometer and heat the oil to 180℃. Start by adding about one-third of the oysters to the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown about 3 to 4 minutes. When golden remove the oysters and put on paper towels to drain. At this point, add more salt if needed. Repeat with the remaining oysters until all are fried.
- The Sandwich
- Slice each portion of bread in half and spread with butter. Toast in the oven. Layer each bottom part with remoulade sauce, then a layer of shredded lettuce and tomato. Add oysters and more remoulade sauce. Serve with a cold beer or a glass of cold white wine, preferably a Sauvignon blanc or Chenin blanc.