13 Delicious Ways To Elevate A Po'boy

New Orleans is the home of the po'boy, a hot sandwich made with French bread stuffed with fried or grilled goodies, and extras ranging from salad to hot sauce and creamy remoulade sauce. Forget dainty triangles and a civilized teatime snack, po'boys are the type of sandwich you grab with both hands and wolf down in big bites. Usually loaded with seafood, with a big focus on shrimp, po'boys can also be stacked with oysters and crab. If you love a steak sandwich or crispy chicken on bread, then the po'boy is a fantastic hot sandwich choice.

There aren't any hard and fast rules when it comes to making a po'boy. However, there are plenty of great tips and tricks to taking it to new heights. So, check out some delicious ways to elevate a po'boy, preferably before lunch as you'll be making one of these spectacular sandwiches before you've even finished reading. 

1. Upgrade to Wagyu

A classic meaty po'boy is filled with roast beef, but to give this a more extravagant gourmet bite, turn it into a succulent steak sandwich. New Orleans sandwich shop, Killer PoBoys serves up Louisiana Wagyu beef braised in black beer with horseradish sauce, plus pickled green beans and banana peppers. Imagine how spectacular that tastes as you bite into the crunchy bread to the velvety luxury steak inside. Other sandwiches include Wagyu beef debris based on a classic slow-cooked, fall-apart roasted joint of meat.  

Another idea is to stuff the bread with slices of fried Wagyu sausages. And if you like to munch down on surf with your turf, then you could add fried, cornmeal-coated, Cajun-spiced shrimp under the meat. The Little Jewel of New Orleans deli has, in the past, also offered customers a double Wagyu po'boy with the sweet, nutty taste of Gruyère, plus mushroom gravy, garlic aioli, and blackened onions. While there are some common mistakes everyone makes cooking Wagyu beef at home, it is easy to overcome these before you make your high-end po'boy. Don't cook straight from the fridge, and let it rest after frying. You'll want to aim more toward medium rather than rare so the fat can dissolve into the meat and the juices don't soak into the bread too much.

2. Add a punchy slaw

It's not uncommon to serve a shrimp po'boy with Cajun spices and a traditional creamy coleslaw – the crunchiness and mayonnaise make the perfect filling with seafood and cut through the heat. It's a great po'boy ingredient to elevate, so much so that a punchy slaw can transform a sandwich into an extraordinary bite. Lift the taste of a shrimp po'boy with pineapple slaw. To make this, combine pineapple chunks and juice with broccoli slaw, mayonnaise, and green onions.

Add an Asian-style twist with a spicy slaw. Use chopped red cabbage and broccoli slaw with green onions and toasted sesame seeds for the base. Make a marinade and refrigerate for a few hours before adding to the veggies so that the flavors infuse. For this, mix soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and chili oil with garlic and lime juice. To make sure you're not missing out on the classic creaminess of a slaw, top the shrimp with Sriracha-mayo. You can also make an easy spicy coleslaw by adding red pepper flakes, scallions, and pepperoncini peppers. Keep with the New Orleans flavors with a cabbage slaw spiced with Cajun seasoning, spicy brown mustard, and hot sauce mixed with mayo and dill pickle relish, plus paprika, and garlic powder. If you prefer less spice, try adding a touch of tartness and vibrant red with hibiscus.

3. Make homemade remoulade sauce

A little like tartar sauce, but with more ingredients, remoulade sauce is the absolute go-to with any type of seafood po'boy. It brings tangy creaminess to every bite and a lovely Louisiana-style kick. Without it, a shrimp, catfish, or oyster sandwich isn't going to taste complete. Because of this, it's worth making homemade remoulade sauce if you want to elevate this prominent flavor profile. It's not time-consuming either, and in 30 minutes you can make a shrimp sub with remoulade. To make the remoulade, start by mixing mayo with hot sauce, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Add Dijon mustard and horseradish, plus capers, dried parsley, and dried dill. Refrigerate while you make the rest of the sandwich and be generous when you add to the shrimp.

Smoky remoulade sauce is a game-changer, too. From the ingredients above, leave out the capers, herbs, and Worcestershire sauce. Instead, add minced garlic, Creole seasoning, and smoked paprika, plus black pepper. If you don't want to use any fresh ingredients, then swap out garlic cloves for powder. Once you've whisked this up, stir in chopped dill pickles. If you're serving the sauce on the side with a seafood po'boy then garnish it with more of the pickles. 

4. Grill shrimp for a smoky flavor

Breaded shrimp is a po'boy classic whether you use breadcrumbs or maybe even panko if you want an even crunchier result. A batter is also a popular choice and this is the same with other seafood sub sandwiches such as oysters or catfish fillets. The crunchy coating, juicy shrimp, and soft and crispy bread are a hit on every level, especially with the velvety, creamy spice of a remoulade sauce. However, if you're using great-quality shrimp, you might prefer a lighter coating and use cornmeal. Or, to fully celebrate the succulence of the shrimp you could leave off the breadcrumbs completely. Grill them instead, so you can taste them in all their succulent glory. 

Use deveined, peeled shrimp and coat them in blackened Cajun seasoning by mixing garlic powder with cayenne pepper and paprika, plus onion powder, brown sugar, and dried oregano and thyme. Thread the seasoned shrimp on skewers and grill. Be sure to soak sticks for 30 minutes before grilling if they are wooden so that they don't catch alight. Grilling shrimp gives them a smoky taste that pairs amazingly well with a punchy slaw. Or you could follow the lead of Red Fish Grill restauranteur, Ralph Brennan who won an award for his recipe of grilled shrimp po'boy with smoky caramelized onions and blackened avocado relish. Or what about grilling butterflied shrimp after marinating them in oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, and minced garlic for a sweet Asian twist on the smokiness? 

5. Choose elevated seafood

One of the most delicious ways to elevate a po'boy is by using seafood that's a notch up the gourmet scale. A grand idea is to coat cooked lobster tails in a panko coating and deep-fry. The sweetness of the luxurious crustacean with the crunchiness of the Japanese-style coating is divine. Slap it between po'boy bread with a generous spread of garlic aioli and the classic combo of lettuce, tomato, and pickles. 

Another delicious po'boy idea is coating fresh scallops in panko spiked with Old Bay seasoning and frying. They taste so moreish with a classic remoulade sauce and if you want to kick the heat up a little more then add hot sauce on the side. Choose fine-quality king scallops for this recipe. If you're a fan of crab meat, then you might want to recreate a classic Vancleave special po'boy. The sandwich is apparently named after the customer at a Mississippi cafe who ordered a crabcake and cheese po'boy. What's different about po'boys in this area is that the bread is toasted in a sandwich press, too. Make the seafood patties with claw crab meat with hot sauce and Cajun seasoning, herbs, vegetables, and Worcestershire sauce. When they've been chilled, fry them in oil and add thinly sliced cheese. Another mouthwatering treat is spicy cornmeal-coated, deep-fried soft-shell crab po'boys.

6. Spice up the breading

Remoulade sauce adds a creamy, spicy taste to seafood po'boys. It also stops the sandwich from tasting dry, especially if the seafood is breaded. With hot sauce like Cholula being a must-have condiment, you can elevate the heat with a good shake of this on top, too. To give the main filling some extra oomph, add spice to the breading as well. You might have coated shrimp in seasonings before grilling, so do the same by shaking a few into breadcrumbs or panko. Rather than buying a pre-made spicy mix, make your own and add it to breadcrumbs. Mix cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and black pepper with garlic powder and onion powder. If you love this seasoning, then store it to shake into future recipes. To spice up breadcrumbs for crispy chicken tenders, add white pepper, ground chili powder, and salt with panko and flour. 

Another breading ingredient is cornmeal and polenta, and you can combine the two. They are both fantastic when you give them a spicy blast and you can enhance the paprika and other spices with citrus notes,  different colored ground pepper, and herbs, plus garlic powder, onion powder, and sea salt. If you're seasoning the breading, then you might want to carry that depth of flavor through, so you can season the produce and even the egg wash.

7. Make a tempura batter

Beer-battered anything sounds good, and while batter seems to be less traditional than breaded filling with po'boys, it's out there to be enjoyed. The only issue is that batter can be quite heavy and create a fairly thick coating. This is fine for classic fried salt cod, which is akin to the British-style favorite served with chips and mushy peas. Now there's a novel idea for a fusion po'boy!

 However, batter and doughy bread might be too stodgy. Rather than go without any crisp, lighten it up instead by coating your po'boy fillings with tempura batter. To make, combine cornstarch, flour, and baking powder with salt. Mix in cold seltzer and don't overwork even if lumps remain as you don't want it to become chewy rather than crunchy. Keep the batter cold with an ice water bath until the moment you're ready to dip and fry. Dip whatever you're frying in flour before dunking in the batter and make sure the oil is hot enough that the crispy coating bubbles up. Or you can simply make shrimp tempura by dipping the peeled and deveined seafood in cornstarch and straight into the batter. They will only take a couple of minutes to cook. In Asia, home to tempura, battered bites are served with sweet chili sauce. Make your own with garlic, sugar, and crushed red pepper, plus rice wine vinegar, cornstarch, and salt. Mix the sauce with the crispy morsels for a spicy, sweet, crunchy bite. 

8. Serve with a different sauce

Remoulade sauce is traditionally served with a po'boy because the flavors pair spectacularly. However, if you're playing around with the fillings and other elements of this Southern sandwich, then why not experiment with the sauce as well? It might turn out to be one of the most delicious ways to elevate a po'boy. Experimenting with different ingredients is fun and doesn't have to be complicated. For a roast beef po'boy with caramelized onions, you might opt for hot sauce or maybe barbecue sauce. If you've made tempura-battered shrimp then you might prefer a sauce that more closely matches the Asian flavor profile. You might have heard of Thai hot sauce, Sriracha, but have you ever tried Sriracha Coconut? Made with coconut milk and sugar, as well as Thai chilis, it's a creamier, mellower sauce. 

If you want to stick with remoulade, you can always add a twist with a creamy avocado sauce. In a food processor, blend avocado and mayo with Dijon mustard, hot sauce, and juice from a jar of candied jalapeños, plus lime juice and zest. You can mirror the sauce ingredients by adding slices of fresh avocado as a filling, too. For a sophisticated and light po'boy, you might want to simply broil or grill white fish fillets, such as tilapia. Complement this with homemade tartar sauce made with mayonnaise, capers, gherkin pickles, and lemon juice with fresh parsley. You could create a spicy tartar sauce, too. 

9. Marinate fillings before frying

One of the most delicious ways to elevate a po'boy is by marinating the filling. Marinade tenderizes meat and infuses ingredients to create a bold flavor. When you chomp down on a po'boy you want the juiciness and the taste to be unmistakable. There's nothing subtle about it, but that doesn't mean that balancing the texture and taste of the fillings isn't important. For a steak po'boy, combine horseradish with apple cider vinegar, and sugar, plus lime juice, chili powder, and salt. Mix with canola oil. Or, mix soy sauce with ketchup, French dressing, and garlic powder for a steak marinade and leave in the fridge overnight if you can. 

Buttermilk is a wonderful tenderizer that results in whatever you're frying is going to cook up juicier and more flavorful, too. Since you're making a Louisiana po'boy, why not add a little hot sauce to the buttermilk? If you're wondering about ratios, then try a cup of buttermilk with a couple of teaspoons of your favorite hot sauce. You can also add Creole seasoning. If you season the flour, cornmeal, or breaded coating and serve with spicy remoulade sauce, then you might not want to go full-throttle with this. Leave whatever you're marinating in the fridge for a couple of hours. 

10. Try different meaty fillings

As mouthwatering as classic po'boys are, you might find a new favorite or elevate this sandwich by trying different fillings. What's fantastic is that there aren't a whole lot of rules with this, although if you stray too far with the sauce, toppings, and bread then it might not end up being a po'boy. To spark your culinary creativity, what about a pork belly po'boy? Boil the meat first for a couple of hours at least in salted water. Once drained, fry pieces so that they crisp up and serve hot on bread with whatever sauce you like. Honey-mustard mayo is delicious with this. You can also marinate the meat in a spicy, herby, garlicky sauce and then cook however you like. Chop the pork belly into pieces before constructing your po'boy. 

If you want to keep it simple, what about a spicy sausage split down the middle and fried? If you want to venture beyond seafood, beef, chicken, and pork, then what about crispy-fried alligator nuggets in a buffalo sauce? Another choice might be wild turkey coated in seasoned flour after a buttermilk and hot sauce marinade and fried. 

11. Make authentic po'boy bread

In Louisiana, French-style Leidenheimer bakery bread is used which is light enough to not overshadow the fillings. New Orleans is also home to Vietnamese immigrants who also create their version of po'boy, which is called banh mi. The bread used is a little chewier, whereas Po'boy bread has a crispy crust and is soft inside. It's a little like a fresh baguette and this is an option if you can't source authentic bread for this sandwich. Or you could make your own, which would be mighty impressive!

To get a lighter texture, add olive oil to bread-making ingredients. Start by mixing sugar and yeast with warm water before adding the olive oil, flour, and salt. After kneading and leaving to proof, roll into baguette shapes and bake. You could also use vegetable shortening in place of the oil. The lightness of po'boy bread means that it goes stale quickly so if you make a few sticks then use them that day or freeze them.

12. Be creative with the fixings

Traditional po'boy fillings come with remoulade sauce and toppings that are called fixings which are classically lettuce, tomato, and pickles. A brilliant way to elevate your po'boy is by being a little more creative with these fixings. An easy swap is to use fried green tomatoes which are tremendous with breaded shrimp and slaw on the side. For a sophisticated po'boy, add wafer-thin slices of cucumber and top crispy-fried shrimp with orange pearls of salmon caviar. 

Other ideas include oysters with smoked paprika and garlic mayo. Or, what about fried mussels with a briny pickled salad with white onion, yellow pepper, celery, and jalapeño? If you're making an Asian-style po'boy, then heat white vinegar, sugar, and salt and then cool before covering slices of cucumber, red chili, and shallot for a quick pickle topping. Meanwhile, how good do barbecue oysters sound with blue cheese dressing? Or add crunchy, salty bacon bits to coleslaw.

13. Create delicious meat-free versions

Meat and seafood feature heavily in most po'boy recipes. Elevate the flavor of vegetarian and plant-based sandwiches by choosing appetizing ingredients that everyone will savor. Cauliflower po'boys are delicious, especially when the florets have a spicy, zesty panko coating and are baked in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. If you've never tasted roasted cauliflower, it's unbelievably good. By giving this classic sandwich a new profile, you aren't compromising but creating new flavors that are just as impressive. 

There's nothing wrong with a little home-comfort stodge. And it doesn't get more carb-on-carb than a mac and cheese po'boy. If you're a pescatarian, you can also cook the pasta dish with shrimp. Another great meat-textured choice that's suitable for vegans, is oyster mushrooms. To give them a lovely thick coating, make a spiced flour and cornstarch batter and dip them in panko so that they are super crispy as well as soft and velvety. How amazing does a po'boy with French fries and veggie gravy sound?