Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Happy Mardi Gras 2008

Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is the day before Lent where devout Catholics give up something for 40 days, as a symbol of devotion. They also start attending services. Fat Tuesday is the day were people splurge, pig out and get it all out of their system for Lent.

I didn't realize today was Mardi Gras until I went downstairs to the cafeteria at work. Of course, they made poor attempts at some Louisiana classics - seafood gumbo, hush puppies and fried okra.

While I was driving home for work, I decided to make a classic poor boy, also known as a po' boy, in celebration of Mardi Gras. However, when I lived in New Orleans, I heard that the locals call the sandwich a poor boy and that tourist called it po' boy. The same with the pronunciation of New Orleans. Tourist will call the city Nawlins' while locals never used 'nawlins.

A poor boy is a submarine sandwich that's typically on soft french bread. Typical fillings vary but of of the popular fillings is deep fried shrimp which is what I'm trying tonight.

The deep fried fillings usually has a corn meal coating, but I believe the corn meal is ground to a fine texture. This is what it looks like in the bag of Louisiana style fish fry. Of course what I have is just a box of regular cornmeal.

I tried pulsing the cornmeal in a coffee grinder. It's hard to tell if it worked or not. There were some fine particles, but not a big difference. I could have used a food processor, but didn't want to lug it out and wash it. Maybe I'll try it next time, but it will be awhile before I try again.

I made 3 batches of fry mix. Actually, I think it was 4.

The fixins
1 cup of corn meal, pulsed through a coffee grinder about 30 to 40 seconds.
Shrimp (31/35), peeled and deveined
1/2 cup of flour
1.5 teaspoons of Lousiana Cajun Seasoning
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Batch 1 - all cornmeal
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 teaspoon seasoning

Batch 2 - half cornmeal and half flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon seasoning

Batch 3 - half and half plus leavening. Based Paula Deen's Fried Chicken recipe on the Food Network. Her recipes calls for self rising flour. I've tried it and liked the results.

1/2 cup of batch 2
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Batch 4
Dump Batch 1, 2, and 3 into a bowl.

While the shrimp is still damp, dredge though the coating mixture and fry in 350F oil for about 1 minute. The shrimp is thin so it doesn't take a long time to cook.

The results:
Batch 1 is in the 9 o'clock position. Crunchy and kind of course from the corn meal.
Batch 2 is in the 12 o'clock position. Not as crunchy with a light coating.
Batch 3 at 3 o'clock. Coating seemed slightly puffier. My imagination since I'm expecting the leavening to do something?
Batch 4 at 6 o'clock. Not as heavy as batch 1, but can feel the texture of the corn.

A common deep frying techinique, you would use an egg wash before the coating, but I don't remember the poor boy shops using an egg wash. Also, I didn't have any eggs.

However, if I try this again I would try a more traditional deep frying method. Flour the ingredients, egg wash and a final dredge through the corn meal coating.

Oysters too!
Yes, I also bought some oysters and fried a few.

The finished product:
A shrimp and oyster poor boy dressed.
Dressed means that the sandwich includes toppings - mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles.
Actually each poor boy shop had a different definition for dressed. Some would include pickles and others you have to request pickles.

I also like adding a few dashes of Louisiana hot sauce. I like the vinegary-ness of Louisiana hot sauce over Tobasco.

If deep frying wasn't a messy procedure, I'd try different coating recipes more often.
Overall, it was a good sandwich. You can't go wrong with deep frying... lol.


Anonymous said...

I laughed out loud at your number 4 mixture. Super idea! I think it's great that you are so innovated with your cooking. The sandwich is beautiful!

Eat4Fun said...

Although I didn't state it in the original post. Batch 4 was probably the best of the bunch.