Throughout Louisiana, a po’boy, a soft French roll stuffed to the brim with the hot filling of your choice, is considered the best of all possible sandwiches. You can make it with spicy sausages or sliced roast beef dripping with gravy, but deep-fried oysters are what put this sandwich on the map.
Fried Oyster Po’Boys
1 lb. (500 g) shucked oysters
1 cup (5 oz./155 g) yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian or Spanish
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Canola oil for deep-frying
4 soft French or Italian rolls, split
Rémoulade (see below)
Shredded iceberg lettuce for serving
Tomato slices for serving
Drain the oysters in a sieve, then rinse well. In a food processor, process the cornmeal until finely ground, about 2 minutes. Pour into a bowl, add the flour, salt, paprika, basil, thyme, black pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper and whisk to combine. In another bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended.
Pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches (7.5 cm) into a large, heavy saucepan and heat over high heat to 350°F (180°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C).
Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. A few at a time, dip the oysters into the eggs, then toss in the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
Set a large wire rack on another baking sheet and place near the stove. In batches to avoid crowding, carefully slip the oysters into the hot oil and deep-fry, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 1⁄2 minutes. Using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer the fried oysters to the rack and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
Remove the oysters from the oven and turn on the broiler. Place the rolls, split side up, on a baking sheet, and toast in the broiler until lightly crisped, 1 to 2 minutes.
Spread the cut side of each roll half with about 2 Tbs. of the rémoulade. Place an equal number of oysters on the bottom half of each roll and top with the tomato slices and lettuce. Place the top of the roll on top. Serve at once, passing the remaining rémoulade on the side. Serves 4.
Rémoulade: In a bowl, mix 1 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbs. minced cornichons, 1 Tbs. rinsed capers, 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, 2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon, 1 tsp. spicy brown mustard, 1/2 tsp. anchovy paste and 1 minced small clove of garlic until well blended. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving. Use at once or refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food: Warm and Homey, Rich and Hearty, by Rick Rodgers.