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Delta Delicious with Martha Hall Foose: A tale of two po’ boys

By Martha Hall Foose

Delta Delicious with Martha Hall Foose: A tale of two po’ boys

NOLA BBQ shrimp po' boy

(serves two)

This is the po’ boy I turn to when I want a quick, saucy seafood sandwich. This is not to be confused with the pour on pulled pork barbecue sauce. This is a garlic and Worcestershire buttery sauce with fresh thyme and smoked paprika. It soaks down into the crisp bread and gives the shrimp a lemony, glistening sheen. Roll up your sleeves and toast-up some extra bread just for sopping up any sauce that is left in the skillet.

I sometimes make this BBQ shrimp and toss it with angel hair pasta or ricotta ravioli with a side salad for a fast dinner.


2 (8-inch) po’ boy loaves sliced lengthwise

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, divided

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Pinch dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salt and cracked black pepper

1 pound medium (41/50) peeled, deveined shrimp


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cut side of bread with mayonnaise and toast until brown and crisp.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter has melted add the garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, pepper sauce, thyme, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and increase the heat to high. Cook stirring occasionally for 4 minutes until the shrimp are pink and very slightly curled.

Remove from heat. Stir in the remaining butter until melted. Fill each po’ boy with shrimp and a big spoonful of the buttery sauce.


Fried shrimp po' boy with onion rings

(serves four)

I love a big po’ boy on a Saturday for lunch. By frying the onion rings before the shrimp, the oil gets seasoned and gives the shrimp a special savory flavor.

I like to use a blend of flour, cornstarch, and seafood breading mix to coat the shrimp and onion rings. The flour coats them well. The cornstarch gives extra crunch, and the seafood seasoning adds some southern-style cornmeal flavor without any grittiness.

Using a combination of prepared yellow mustard and eggs to act as a “glue” to hold the coating in place works wonderfully well. The mustard does not impart a strong flavor because the vinegar and water in the mustard evaporates when fried.

I like a combo of shredded iceberg and fresh cabbage to provide a fresh crunch.


2 large, sweet onions (Vidalia or Walla Walla) cut into rings

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup corn starch

3/4 cup fish fry seafood breading mix (I like Louisiana or Zatarain’s brands made with corn flour)

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning blend

1 cup yellow mustard

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (I like Crystal)

2 pounds large (31/35) peeled, deveined shrimp

1 quart oil for frying

4 (8-inch) French bread loaves or po’ boy rolls sliced lengthwise

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup cocktail sauce

1/2 cup shredded iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup shredded cabbage


Soak onion rings in a large bowl of ice water for 30 minutes. Drain the onions. Carefully remove the thin membrane from the inner wall or each piece of onion. Pat onions dry with paper towel. Return the onion rings to the bowl.

In a medium shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, breading mix, and Creole seasoning and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, egg, and hot sauce. Pour 1 cup of the mustard mixture over the onions. Toss to coat. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the flour mixture over the rings and toss to coat. Toss occasionally to keep the onions coated.

Add the shrimp to the remaining mustard mixture and toss to coat.

Heat oil to 400 degrees. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with crumpled brown paper sacks.

Working in small batches, take onion rings from mustard mixture allowing extra to drip back into remaining onions.

Coat onion rings with flour mixture. Shake off any excess coating. Fry onion rings until golden brown. Remove to drain on paper-lined sheet pan. Pour any leftover mustard mixture from the onions into the remaining mustard mixture.

Working in batches, take the shrimp from the mustard mixture allowing excess to drip off and coat with the flour mixture pressing the shrimp into the mixture to coat.

Fry the shrimp for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly curled and golden brown. Drain on paper lined sheet pan.

Spread the cut sides of each piece of bread very lightly with mayonnaise. Toast in oven cut side up until crusty and browned. Spread bottom of each cut side with cocktail sauce. Top with shrimp, lettuce, and cabbage. Spread each top with mayonnaise and stack the sandwiches. Serve with onion rings.


Martha Hall Foose, the author of “Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook,” won the James Beard Award for American Cooking. Her latest collaboration is “A Good Meal is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South” with Amy C. Evans. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son. She is a member of Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association.

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