Blackened Snapper Po-Boy
This particular sandwich combines two of my favorite Louisiana treats – blackened fish and the po-boy sandwich.
Legend has it that this sandwich’s name was coined in the Great Depression during a streetcar strike when a New Orleans restaurant owner served the strikers (a.ka. the “poor boys”) free sandwiches. When a striker came by the restaurant, the staff would call out “Here comes another po-boy!”
When making a po-boy, many consider the bread to be the most important part. It should be crispy and flaky on the outside, and soft on the inside. In New Orleans, bakeries make loaves specially designed for po-boy sandwiches. If you are outside of New Orleans, a classic French roll or baguette is the best option. As for the meat of the sandwich, the options are limitless. Roast beef with gravy, ham and cheese, fried seafood, and grilled fish are some of the most popular. It really up to the creativity of the cook.
I like to use blackened fish on the po-boys I make at home. The main two reasons are that blackening is a really simple cooking technique and that it adds a delicious kick to an otherwise mild fish or meat. The key to blackening is the blackened seasoning. You can find blackened seasoning in the spice department at most neighborhood supermarkets. You simply dust the fish with a light coating of this dry seasoning and then cook it in a cast-iron skillet or on a grill.
I typically use red snapper when I make this sandwich since it’s a Gulf fish often found on New Orleans menus. Any firm white fish, like tilapia or grouper, can easily be substituted for the snapper.
I like to dress my po-boys with the classic lettuce, tomato, and pickle as well as a spicy remoulade sauce.
Blackened Snapper Po-Boy
For the Remoulade Sauce:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely sliced scallions
For the Blackened Snapper Po-Boy:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 red snapper fillets (6 ounces each)
4 tablespoons blackened seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 crusty French rolls, split
1/2 cup sliced dill pickles
4 slices tomatoes
4 pieces tender leaf lettuce
To make the remoulade sauce: In a medium mixing bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the scallions. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the blackened snapper po-boy: Season both sides of the fish with the blackened seasoning. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pan.
Sear the fish on one side until the meat is well browned and releases easily from the pan, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn over the fillets and cook until desired doneness, about 5 more minutes.
About 1 minute before the fish is done, lightly toast the rolls.
To serve, spread remoulade sauce on the top and bottom of each roll. Place the fish on the bread and garnish with the pickles, tomatoes, and lettuce.
Don’t like it spicy? Just omit the blackened seasoning and season your fish with salt and pepper.
This fish can be cooked on a grill.
Recipe from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler
Story excerpted from Jennifer Chandler’s bi-weeky Commercial Appeal newspaper column Dinner Tonight.
Photo by the talented Justin Fox Burks. Food Styling by Jennifer Chandler.