Shrimp Po’ Boys and Hush Puppies

Let’s give up on the warm weather and fry some seafood. At least we’ll dress this sandwich with fresh, peppery watercress and fresh diced tomatoes, and we’ll top it with a fresh-made remoulade that also includes a few fresh ingredients. Lastly, we’re building the whole shebang in a top-cut bun, toasted to golden brown perfection. Yum.

As any good coastal inhabitant knows, seafood has a very short cook time. But if you’re reading this from a few hundred miles inland, and this is your first foray into seafood preparation, seafood is only cooked for 2 minutes. Honest. There is a caveat, though. If you cook it for longer than 2 minutes, you cook it for a minimum of 20 minutes. Minute 2, and your seafood will be cooked and tender. Minutes 3-19, it will be cooked and tough. Minute 20 and beyond, cooked and tender again. But the 20 minutes refers to larger pieces of seafood: fish filets and large whole seafood.

Timing is critical. If you’ve ever had shrimp that seemed to resist your teeth, they were overcooked. If you don’t have a digital timer, invest in one. It’s a modest investment of less than $20. And you could easily waste $20 of seafood to extended cooking times with a mere two pounds of raw shrimp.

If you have a remoulade recipe or sauce you really love, use that. Otherwise the remoulade recipe that’s part of this entry is absolutely delicious. This needs to be put together first since it needs some time to get its essence act together. Fresh parsley, fresh green onions and fresh white onions need a few hours to “gas out” and mellow. You might be tempted to lavish the sauce on this sandwich, but for this, less is more. The shrimp won’t have a ton of flavor, but you still don’t want to overpower it with the sauce. From a logistical perspective, too much sauce makes this po’ boy nearly impossible to eat without a big and washcloth handy.

We’ve left the lecture on the hush puppies until last, not because it’s less important, but because it’s barely a lecture. They are simple to make, simple to fry and utter bliss to eat. Man might not be able to live on bread alone, but these hush puppies will certainly give that cliché a run for its money. Cornmeal, flour, scallions and a touch of sugar fried to a crisp ball of bliss are the perfect side to this meal. If you haven’t made them before, take heart. They nearly cook themselves. Because they take only a few minutes to cook, and we can fry the entire batch all at once, we’ll fry these first. Wait to add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients until the temperature of the oil reaches 300°F. We’ll be frying everything at 350°F, which means the batter will be sitting together for only a few minutes. A 2 tablespoon disher (OXO Good Grips is an excellent choice), is the perfect size for these fried cornmeal balls. As a bonus, the puppies roll themselves over when they are cooked on the underside.

If you’ve given up on the warm weather ever returning for good, assuage your climatic angst with a truly delicious meal.

Spicy Remoulade

  •  1 large egg
  • 3-4 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup chopped white onion
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon grated horseradish
  • 3 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 3 tablespoon yellow prepared mustard
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons packed fresh parsely
  • kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup canola oil

Process all the ingredients in a food processor except the oil, for 20 or 30 pulses. With the processor running, slowly pour in the oil. Continue to process for an additional 15-20 seconds. Pour the remoulade in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Shrimp Batter

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • ¼ cup corn starch
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons potato flakes
  • 1½- 2 cups club soda
  • panko bread crumbs

Pour 2 cups panko bread crumbs in a shallow pie plate. Add the flour, corn starch, seasoning salt, cayenne, garlic and potato flakes to a bowl and stir to combine. Pour the club soda and whisk to combine. The batter should be very thin, almost watery. The potato flakes take a few minutes to absorb the liquid. If the batter is still to thin after 4 minutes, add another tablespoon of potato flakes.

Batter shrimp 4 or 5 at a time, then coat in panko. Place on a tray to dry. While the shrimp are drying, put the hush puppies together.

Hush Puppies

  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • ¼ cup AP flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 large egg

Using a 10-inch by 3-inch straight-sided skillet, pour 1½ inches of oil in the bottom and heat over medium heat fitted with a thermometer. The target frying temperature is 350°F. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Mix the egg and buttermilk together in a measuring cup. Wait to add the liquids to the dry ingredients until the oil temperature reaches 300°F. When the oil temperature reaches 350°F, scoop the hush puppies with a 2 tablespoon disher, directly into the oil. The entire batch should fit. Fry the puppies for 3-4 minutes, turning when they are brown if they haven’t turned themselves over. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Fry the shrimp in batches of a dozen at 350°F for exactly 2 minutes. Remove from the oil, and drain on a tray with a few layers of paper towels.

Toast the buns. Build the po’ boys by placing 5 or 6 watercress leaves in the bottom, spooning a tablespoon of remoulade on top and adding a few diced tomato slices. Place 4 shrimp on top and ladle another tablespoon of remoulade over all. Enjoy!