When compared to the hearty brat, a hot dog is unfortunately seen the as childish choice on the picnic table.
But we adults know that sometimes a salty dog is just what we need to hit the spot.
Enter the “adultified” Po’ Boy Hot Dog. Topped with crispy fried shrimp, lettuce, and tomato, this hot dog will fill even the most voracious of big kid bellies.
The story of the po’ boy dates back to 1929 in New Orleans, when the city’s streetcar workers organized a strike over contract negotiations. The strike turned violent, shutting down the entire transit system for weeks.
Bennie and Clovis Martin, former streetcar workers who left the industry to open a coffee stand, offered aid to their fellow striking car-men by giving free meals to any strikers that stopped by their stall. They partnered with a local baker to make large loafs that could be sliced and filled quickly.
Legend has it that as the strike grew, whenever workers neared the shop the Martin’s would call to one another, “Here comes another poor boy.” The “poor boy” got shortened to “po’ boy” and the name has stuck ever since.
While a true po’ boy refers to the size and style of bread rather than the toppings, across America the name conjures up images of fried shellfish, lettuce, and tomato. A “fully dressed” po’ boy comes with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
Our po’ boy dog sticks with the traditional bun, but goes all out as a fully dressed sandwich. We’ve added a hint of mustard for an extra little kick, but the true star is the spiced fried shrimp.
Cooking By the Numbers…
Preparing the Shrimp:
Step One – Defrost
If your shrimp comes frozen, be sure to plan ahead! Defrost it overnight in the fridge or, if time is running short, run it under cool water in a colander in the sink for about half an hour.
Looking for the best colander to do the job? Pedestal or footed types are key, since they offer a bit of clearance at the bottom. Read more about the best colanders and strainers to meet your culinary needs on Foodal.
Once you can break the pieces apart and peel off the skins, they are ready to go.
Step Two – Mix the Dredge
While the shrimp defrosts, you can pull together the dredging mixture.
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the flour, half a tablespoon of salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons), 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes, the cumin, coriander, and paprika. Once the spices are well incorporated into the flour, pour about a third of the mixture into another bowl.
Pour your buttermilk into a third bowl, and set up your dredging station with all of the bowls that you’ll be dipping into lined up on your countertop or kitchen table, with the bowl that contains less of the flour mixture first, then the buttermilk, and finally the larger portion of your seasoned mix.
Step Three – Peel & Devein
Some shrimp come already peeled and deveined. If you’ve been lucky enough to purchase such a commodity, move ahead to step 4! Others come already deveined but with shells still on, and some are available for purchase whole.
Begin by pulling the legs out from the belly of the shrimp. After the belly is clean, peel back the shell and pop off the tail. You can reserve these shells for a nice stock, or add them to your compost.
If yours have not yet been deveined, use a paring knife to slice down the spine, about a quarter of an inch deep. Pull out the dark vein that runs along the spine and toss it in the trash. Then give your shrimp a good rinse and let them drain.
Step Four – Season
Once your shrimp are cleaned, season them with the remaining half tablespoon of salt and teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Make sure the seasoning has been spread evenly before you move on to the next step.
Step Five – Heat the Oil
If you have a deep fryer, now is the time to use it! Check out Foodal’s review to learn more about some of the best models on the market.
Otherwise, pour your fry oil into a gallon-sized pot over medium heat. Your oil will boil and pop when you add the shrimp, and you want to make sure you are using a large enough container so that it doesn’t splatter and burn you.
Using a candy/deep frying thermometer for guidance, heat the oil until it reaches 350°F.
Keep a close eye on the temperature of the oil as you fry. You might need to adjust the burner as you go, in order to maintain a temperature in the 350°F-375°F range.
If it gets too hot, it will burn the oil (and your food). But if it gets too cool, you will end up with greasy shellfish.
Step Six – Dredge
Drop the seasoned shrimp into the smaller bowl of flour. Toss to coat, then plop them into the buttermilk, and on into the larger bowl of flour. When they are fully coated, drop them (carefully!) into the hot oil.
You want to dredge and cook only 5-10 pieces at a time. If you add too much to the oil at once, you will bring the temperature of the oil down too quickly. Additionally, you run the risk of causing oil to boil over the pot, potentially leaving you with a painful burn.
Step Seven – Fry
Fry the shrimp for 30 seconds to a minute or until golden brown and cooked through, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon, and drain on a cooling rack or paper towels.
This will allow the excess oil to drip off, which will help them to stay crisp. And there is nothing worse than soggy shrimp!
Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all of the pieces have been fried.
Assembling the Dogs:
Step One – Cook
Cook your hot dogs to your own preference. If it’s grilling weather, take advantage of the opportunity!
If it’s chilly or rainy, boiling in water or frying up in a pan on the stove will do just fine.
Step Two – Dress
Spread the buns with mayonnaise and brown mustard to your liking. Lay down a bed of lettuce and thin slices of tomato.
Roma or plum tomatoes work nicely for this recipe as they are small enough to fit in the bun. If you’re using a larger variety like beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, just slice the rounds in half to fit.
Add in your dog, and top with four to five pieces of shrimp. Dig in!
Are you a hot dog fanatic? Check out our round-up of the internet’s top wild and crazy dog recipes here!
What’s your favorite kind of po’ boy? If you want a lighter version, try our grilled po’boys. And have you ever had one in the true Louisiana style? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Francis Lam. “The lefty history of New Orleans’ iconic po’ boy.” April 22, 2010. http://www.salon.com/2010/04/22/lefty_history_of_the_new_orleans_po_boy.
“The History of the Po-Boy.” Oak Street Po-Boy Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. http://www.poboyfest.com/history
Photos by Kendall Vanderslice, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.