Being a born and bred New Orleanian, I always start getting kind of excited around this time of year. Mardi Gras is a few short weeks away and my kitchen starts to smell like dishes from my childhood. Po boys have always been at the top of my list! I grew up eating these. Only back then they were filled with fried shrimp, catfish or oysters. These delicious sandwiches are a staple in most New Orleans restaurants. They are basically like a submarine sandwich usually filled with meat or fried seafood. What differentiates them is the bread. Po boys are served on warm French bread and it’s crucial to get really good French bread! You will also usually be asked if you want your po boy “dressed” …that means mayo, tomato and lettuce.
Many years ago, when I first went vegetarian (and before I was a vegan) I would allow myself one shrimp or oyster po-boy a year when I was visiting home. Then one day my then fiance (now husband) asked an already guilty feeling me, if I considered myself a pescetarian because I allowed myself this indulgence. I didn’t, so that ended that. But I’ve never stopped missing them.
It’s not only about how good they taste, it’s also about the memories associated with eating one. When I was younger, my family and I would go to the lakefront on Saturday nights where all of the great seafood restaurants were and I’d order a shrimp or oyster po-boy every time. I have fond recollections of sitting in these big, not always so nicely decorated restaurants and looking out onto the water. But you don’t really need fancy decor when the food is great and the view is beautiful!
Unfortunately I rarely get to Mardi Gras anymore since I live in Boston now, but we always celebrate by cooking up some good New Orleans food! This is a new recipe for a vegan po boy using cornmeal crusted tofu. It reminds me of an oyster po boy...delicious. Click here for the recipe. Or, if you are feeling really lazy, try using Sophie's Kitchen fried shrimp. You can find them at most Whole Foods stores and they are a nice substitute.
Photo credit: Julie