Imagine, if you will, fresh Gulf shrimp, juicy and aromatic with coriander and lime, combined with all the pickled goodness of a bánh mì sandwich, slathered with a spicy-sweet mayonnaise and enveloped in a po' boy bun. This is the Vietnamese-inspired po' boy that we fell in love with in New Orleans' French Quarter and the one we're sharing here today.
Without the fried trappings of a traditional shrimp po' boy, this take is lighter, more piquant, and much easier to recreate at home than its namesake.
Shrimp po' boys are a staple of New Orleans cuisine. Whether they are assembled from fried, pickled, or steamed shrimp, you'll find them everywhere, from fine-dining restaurants to sidewalk carts and even the back of bars. And everyone in town has their favorite spot — the place that makes the best shrimp po' boy.
This recipe is inspired by one such place: Killer Poboys was started in the back of Erin Rose, a dive bar (which also happens to be the best place in town to get an Irish coffee). Chef Cam Boudreaux's interpretations of classic po' boys — made using top-quality, locally sourced ingredients — earned such a following that the outfit opened a second location just a few streets away.
You can't really go wrong, but the "Seared Shrimp Poboy" is definitely a winner and we love that it incorporates the influence of the city's Vietnamese community. Fun fact: Many po'boy shops, including Killer Poboys, get their rolls from Vietnamese bakery Dong Phuong.
To make these at home, consider seeking out similar rolls at your local Vietnamese grocery and grabbing a deli tub of the carrot/daikon pickle to make building these sandwiches even faster.
Vietnamese-Style Shrimp Po' Boy
For the pickles:
1 medium English cucumber, peeled and julienned (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup peeled and julienned daikon radish (about 4 ounces)
1 cup peeled and julienned carrots (about 3 1/2 ounces, from about 3 carrots)
1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Sriracha mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon fish sauce
For the shrimp:
1 1/2 pounds uncooked large shrimp (21 to 25 count), peeled and deveined
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium lime (1 tablespoon zest; 3 tablespoons juice)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the sandwiches:
4 (6- to 7-inch-long) soft French or Vietnamese sandwich rolls, split lengthwise
Small handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Make the pickles: Combine the cucumber, daikon, carrots, and jalapeño in a medium bowl. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt and toss to combine well. Set aside while preparing the remaining sandwich components, stirring occasionally.
Make the mayo: Whisk all the ingredients together in small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to build the sandwiches.
Cook the shrimp: Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and place in a large bowl. Add the lime zest, lime juice, salt, and coriander and toss to combine. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp in an even layer and cook, stirring rarely, until pink, opaque, and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Build the sandwiches: Toast the rolls, if desired. Spread the inside of each roll with the Sriracha mayonnaise. Divide the pickles over the bottom buns. Divide the shrimp evenly over the pickles. Top with chopped cilantro, close the sandwiches, and cut each in half before serving.
- Daikon substitutes: Can't find daikon? Jicama or regular radishes would be adequate substitutes if you have trouble finding daikon. Jicama has a similar crunchy texture, but lacks the spicy bite of a radish.
- Make ahead: The pickles and mayonnaise can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.