I find the history of certain recipes absolutely fascinating and while many of the stories are buried in myths and legends regarding its origin the Po’Boy sandwich has none of that. Documented evidence leaves no doubt as to this great sandwich recipe’s origin and with little surprise it began in New Orleans. Bennie and Clovis Martin were both streetcar conductors until they decided to open a small coffee stand and restaurant in 1922. In 1929 the streetcar workers went on strike and Bennie and Clovis never forgot where they came from. They offered free sandwiches to the strikers and when they saw one of the striking men coming they would say “Here comes another poor boy” and a great recipe was named forever. You can read more about this sandwich and its history at http://www.poboyfest.com/history.
This recipe, like most, has evolved over the years to include all sorts of ingredients and techniques to prepare them, but the Cajun crappie recipe is as simple as they come but packs a lot of flavor into a sandwich. Keep in mind that if the crappie fishing is slow you can substitute any fish you like for this recipe to include bluegill and catfish or you can get some Tilapia or Ocean Perch from the grocery store if the fishing is really slow. So let’s get started with our Cajun Crappie Po’Boy.
1 lb crappie fillets
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
3 eggs, whisked
Vegetable oil for frying
2 cups Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, grated
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 split hoagie rolls
1 thinly sliced tomato
Shredded red cabbage
Getting Started: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees so it’s ready for the hoagies. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet for frying. I like to turn the heat on low just to preheat the oil while I prepare the rest of the ingredients and prepare the fish for frying. This way all I have to do is crank up the heat and start frying. It just speeds things up a bit and when cooking alone any streamlining you can do will really help get everything prepared together and hot off the grill so to speak.
Shred your lettuce and cabbage and set aside. You can slice your tomato now or if it’s going to be awhile just wait until your sandwich is built then the tomato is freshly sliced. You will have time because it takes a minute for the fish to cool enough to take a bite so be patient. My wife can never wait and burns her mouth every time, but hey that’s a sign that you make a great tasting Po’ Boy.
Next grate your garlic cloves and mix with your melted butter in a small bowl. This mixture is for the hoagies and will be brushed on the bread just before placing them into the oven to bake.
Preparing the crappie: Cut your fillets into bite size morsels, rinse, strain and spread them out on a paper towel to soak up some of the water. Next, you will need three bowls to set up what I call a dredge line for coating your fish. In the first bowl, add the flour and Cajun spices then mix well. In the second bowl, whisk the 3 eggs together. You can add a little milk if you like. The last bowl in your dredge line is for the breadcrumbs.
When doing whole fillets, you would just dredge one fillet at a time, but with these bite size fish I like to dredge a few at a time to speed things up. I add several pieces to the flour mix and coat thoroughly. Then add the flour coated fish to the egg making sure each piece is covered with the egg so the breadcrumbs will stick. Next roll your egg coated pieces in the breadcrumbs and after shaking off the excess set them aside on a plate. You will want to dredge all of your fish pieces before placing them into the skillet, that way you can focus on the frying and getting your fish golden brown. I turn up the heat on the oil to medium while I dredge my fish and let it heat up.
Once you have all of your fish dredged and ready to go turn up the heat on the skillet and place your split hoagies on foil or a cookie sheet while it heats up to 350 degrees. Brush the garlic butter mixture over your bread and place in the oven to bake while you fry your fish.
Place your fish in the hot oil, adding a few pieces at a time, so you don’t cool the oil too fast. Fry the fish until golden brown and place in a bowl with paper towels. Keep an eye on your bread. I usually turn the oven to broil at the end just to brown the face of the hoagie then remove from the oven.
Building your Po’ Boy: Now for the easy part. Apply tartar sauce to one side of your toasted bread or if you’re like me and love tartar sauce throw some on both sides. Now add the shredded lettuce and cabbage and then the fish. This is when I thinly slice my tomato as needed. It is best to slice it thin or it will make it more difficult to eat the Po’ Boy. You can sprinkle a little more Cajun seasoning on top of the tomatoes if you like to add a little more Cajun punch. Enjoy.