I have never had a Po’ Boy before. I’m not sure why. It may have something to do with my first introduction to the Po’ Boy being something I witnessed in a gas station convenience store. Pale white bread with something flesh-colored and pink pressed up against a moisture laced cellophane wrapper offending my eyes and my stomach as I hunted for gum. Or maybe it was because with a name like Po’ Boy, I wasn’t able to identify it. As we know, I was a very picky eater as a child. If I couldn’t identify it, it would not pass my lips. I still don’t understand orange cheese.
Roast beef, another of my least favorite foods (boy, I’m picky), was reportedly, but not necessarily confirmed, the first Po’ Boy topping. The story goes that, back in 1929, a couple of streetcar conductors, the brothers Bennie and Clovis Martin, invented the sandwich during a nationwide streetcar worker strike. They wanted to feed their fellow strikers free of charge so they made sandwiches using entire loaves of bread so there wouldn’t be any waste. It’s said that the name “Po’ Boy” came to be when the brothers saw a striker coming for some food, they would say, “Here comes another poor boy.” And it stuck.
Fortunately, the Po’ Boy evolved to take advantage of the abundant sea life (sadly, formerly) found off the Louisiana coast. With hot and smoked sausages taking a strong second as a local favorite. The key to the Po’ Boy is the bread. You can’t use just any roll, it has to be French. Otherwise, you’ve just made yourself a submarine sandwich.
The baguettes were calling me, and well, there really isn’t any bread more French than than a baguette, right? I got a little fancy with our Po’ Boys and “dressed” them. I blackened tilapia and smothered the baguette with homemade lemon parsley aioli, which cooled down the heat of the Cajun seasoning nicely. A sprinkling of mixed greens and thinly sliced tomatoes, and you’re eating N’awlins style….with a Pacific Northwest twist.
I was inspired to make Po’ Boys after “leafing” through the Gourmet Traveller website. Their version called for fried oysters. Yum!
What you’ll need-
Two tilapia filets
Half a baguette cut into four evenly sized sandwich chunks, and cut in half
For the lemon aioli
2 raw eggs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons roasted garlic
1 1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon chopped curly parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Warm olive oil in skillet over medium heat.
Rub Cajun seasoning onto both sides of your tilapia filets.
Cook tilapia for about 3 minutes on each side. Flesh should be starting to get flakey when you poke it with a spatula. Place cooked fish on a plate and set aside.
Lemon Parsley Aioli
Using your food processor, combine eggs, mustard and roasted garlic until smooth. Add lemon juice and lemon zest. Pulse to combine.
With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the emulsion becomes thick and creamy. Pulse in parsley and salt and pepper.
Use aioli immediately, but you can store it in a tightly lidded jar for one to two days.
Cut baguette chunks in half. Smother bread with aioli, place greens and thinly sliced tomato on bottom half. Place blackened tilapia on top of greens and tomato and serve with a red ale. I prefer Laurelwood’s Free Range Red.