The Easy Way To Spice Up Your Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich

Picture in your mind a shrimp po boy with a crackly-crusted New Orleans-style baguette heaped with shredded lettuce, slices of tomato, a slather of mayonnaise, and plump and juicy on the inside yet crunchy on the outside fried shrimp. Looks so good you can almost taste it, but is this the only way to have a shrimp po boy? Not if you expand your mind to take in the breadth of Cajun and Creole shrimp preparations and their utility as a sandwich filling.

There are a plethora, to be sure, but one stands out among the rest as a heady, piquant, saucy shrimp recipe that is just screaming to be served on French bread. In fact, some would say this dish, in and of itself, is incomplete without French bread on the side, at the very least. New Orleans' barbecue shrimp is nothing like conventional barbecue. Rather, the shrimp is sautéed in a sauce that generally consists of butter, garlic, Creole seasoning, black pepper, and Worcestershire sauce, though other ingredients are generally added at the discretion of the chef. The result is shrimp absolutely swimming in a rich and zesty broth that has commingled with the shellfish juices and demands to be sopped up with bread.

Make it saucy or dry

There are a lot of reasons to put barbecue shrimp on a po boy instead of fried shrimp. With all that sauce and punchy flavor, barbecue shrimp is just a sandwich filling waiting to happen. Also, no frying. Fried foods are great, but they require a lot of work. From the multiple vessels for dredging to the giant pot of hot oil that must be carefully minded, frying up shrimp can seem like a little more effort than it's worth.

That said, creating po boy-worthy barbecue shrimp requires some modifications to most of the recipes that are out there. First, barbecue shrimp makes use of whole shrimp, shell and all. When eaten as a dish, diners peel the shrimp from the shell, something not as easily done with a sandwich filling, so use pre-peeled shrimp. Second, barbecue shrimp is generally served with a large quantity of buttery sauce. While that's a good thing, too much sauce would be wasted on a sandwich. You can cut down on the quantities of Worcestershire sauce, wine, and butter found in most recipes to make for a less saucy affair, or you can make a similarly-flavored rub for the shrimp that will blend with the their natural juices and the butter in the pan to create a vibrant sauce.

Serving a barbecue shrimp po boy

To serve your barbecue shrimp po boys, there are a couple of options that nod to both the original dish and to po boys more generally. If you want to keep things simple, make a saucier barbecue shrimp filling and serve it unadulterated on a baguette. And, don't worry; nothing will be understated about this dish as punchy garlic and rich butter seep into the bread's cracks and crevasses. You could even make a fairly-saucy, classic version of barbecue shrimp and serve a little of the sauce on the side, a New Orleans seafood nod to the jus served with a French dip.

For drier barbecue shrimp renditions, bring in more of the classic po boy fixings. Shredded iceberg lettuce, sliced tomato, sweet pickles, and mayonnaise would all work well atop barbecue shrimp, adding both moisture and crunch. If you need to further spice things up, a slather of Creole mustard or a dash of Louisiana hot sauce would bring heat and tang to this culinary chimera.