The po’ boy is one of the most iconic New Orleans dishes we have in the South. Nearly every one of our hundreds of restaurants down here serves some variation of this traditional sandwich.
A po’ boy is always served on crusty French bread with all the fixings: lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and flavorful remoulade sauce. This classic variation is loaded with crispy cornmeal-crusted fried oysters which creates a finger-lickin’ good sub. Serve it as an indulgent weekend lunch or a fun weeknight dinner.
When making po’ boys, the best oysters to purchase are freshly shucked. They are always sold in their own liquid and the container is dated to guarantee freshness. You can also purchase fresh oysters and shuck them yourself.
Look for the freshest oysters possible with a fresh smell and use them as soon as possible after purchase. To prepare them for frying, feel around each one for leftover bits of shell using your hands. It’s quite common to find some bits of shell since shucking them is difficult.
If you’re intimidated by deep frying, read through these steps and take your time! We are at home cooking, let’s not rush. Follow these tips and you’ll be set up for success:
- Have a thermometer on hand so you can monitor the temperature of your oil while frying.
- You want enough oil that the oysters will float and not hit the bottom of the pot. About 3 to 4 inches of oil should do the trick. Just be sure to leave a few inches of headroom so that the pot doesn’t boil over.
- You want to fry your oysters hot and fast! At 375°F, the oysters will crisp up the outside perfectly, leaving you with plump, juicy oysters when you bite into them.
- Line a sheet tray with a cooling rack—you’ll transfer the oysters here once they come out of the oil to allow the excess grease to drain.
Remoulade sauce is a super flavorful, creamy sauce unique to New Orleans. The sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. You can also use this as a salad dressing (my fave!) if you have extra lying around.
This is the only part of the po’ boy you can really make ahead. You can prep your toppings up to a few hours ahead of time (shred the lettuce, slice tomatoes, etc.), but fry the oysters right before you’re ready to eat.
Freshly shucked oysters are typically sold in their own liquid, which will keep them salty, or in water. I recommend tasting a fresh oyster so you can gauge the salt level before you season and fry them—then you can adjust the salt level to taste.
This recipe makes extra remoulade sauce. If you’d rather not have leftovers, you can halve the sauce recipe.
- 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup Creole mustard
- 3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, such as Slap Ya Mama
- 2 teaspoons horseradish
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
- 1 cup self-rising cornmeal mix, such as White Lily
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning, such as Slap Ya Mama
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste (adjust based on the saltiness of your oysters and Cajun seasoning)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 to 3 quarts canola or vegetable oil, for frying
- 1/2 gallon (about 40) freshly shucked oysters, in liquid
- French bread
- Shredded lettuce
- Dill pickles
- Sliced tomatoes
- Sliced white onions
- Make the remoulade sauce:
In a small bowl, stir together all of the remoulade sauce ingredients until combined. Set aside until ready to use. The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Make the cornmeal batter:
In a shallow bowl, combine the cornmeal mix, flour, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Whisk to mix.
Line a sheet pan with paper towels and set nearby.
- Preheat the oil:
Add enough oil to reach 2 to 3 inches up the side of a large, deep cast-iron pot or Dutch oven. You should have at least 2 to 3 inches of space above the oil to prevent it from boiling over.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375°F.
- Dredge the oysters:
Meanwhile, prepare the oysters. Remove a few shucked oysters from their liquid and briefly let them drip dry. Add them to the breading and toss to coat completely. Move them to a clean plate and repeat with the rest of the oysters.
- Fry the oysters:
When the oil comes up to temperature, carefully lower several of the oysters into the oil using a spider or slotted spoon. Don’t overfill the pot—the oysters should have plenty of room to cook without crowding each other. You will need to work in batches. Fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove from the oil, drain, and place on the lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
- Assemble the sandwich:
Split the bread in two (if needed) and spread the remoulade sauce on the top and bottom. Add the pickles and top with the fried oysters, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce, and sliced onion. Serve immediately.
The remoulade sauce will keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge.
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