Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tilapia Po’ Boys with Homemade Tartar Sauce

The name for New Orleans' most famous sandwich, the po-boy

Harkens back to its humble, scrappy origins. That heritage must have given the po-boy some special resilience because, as New Orleans rebuilds from Hurricane Katrina, po-boys are among the most prevalent of local culinary traditions to make it back to the restaurant scene.

Visitors to the French Quarter will find a wide variety of po-boys purveyors serving these classic French bread sandwiches, but first a short history lesson will set the scene.

As with most elements of New Orleans history, the origin of the po-boy has competing versions flavored over the years by creative storytellers and self-appointed authorities of dubious veracity. But the most widely accepted story holds that the sandwich was invented by Clovis and Benjamin Martin, brothers and former streetcar drivers who opened a restaurant on St. Claude Avenue in the 1920s. When streetcar drivers went on strike in 1929, the brothers took up their cause and created an inexpensive sandwich of gravy and spare bits of roast beef on French bread they would serve the unemployed workers out of the rear of their restaurant. When a worker came to get one, the cry would go up in the kitchen that "here comes another poor boy!," and the name was transferred to the sandwich, eventually becoming "po-boy" in common usage.

Hot roast beef po-boys dripping with gravy are the close relatives of these originals, but po-boys now come in any variety sandwich makers can dream up. Fried seafood are the most popular versions, drawing on the abundant local resources of the Gulf and bayous, but hot or smoked sausage, ham and cheese and hamburger are also common. The most unusual is probably the French fry po-boy, which simply pairs French fries, gravy and condiments within the French bread loaf. These are always the most inexpensive sandwich at restaurants that serve them. With all po-boys, remember that "dressed" means a topping of shredded lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and pickles.

This po’ boy is easy to make, and perfect for those busy weeknights. 

Tilapia Po’ Boys with Homemade Tartar Sauce
Copyright 2013, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.

4 tilapia fillets
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (16 oz.) bag coleslaw
4 wheat French rolls

In a shallow dish, combine flour, cornmeal, salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Seasoned fish with salt.

In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Dredge fillets in seasoned flour on both sides and place fillets in skillet. Lower heat to medium low, cook for 2 minutes. Turn fillets and cook another 2 minutes, until fish is cooked and easily flacks with a fork.

Debo’s Tartar Sauce
Copyright 2013, Debo, Christine’s Pantry. All rights reserved.

1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sweet relish
dash Louisiana hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
black pepper to taste

Combine, mayonnaise, sweet relish, Louisiana hot sauce, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

To assemble: slice the wheat french rolls in halve lengthwise. Spread tartar sauce on top halve of french roll. Place coleslaw on bottom halve of french roll, then place tilapia fillet. Top with top halve of french roll. Enjoy!




  1. I am a huge fish fan, love taco's but this one really grabbed me to stop and take a look.. going to be putting this on my list for must makes this year! nice one Christine!

    1. Thank you, Claudia! The sandwich taste great and very filling.

  2. This is one serious sandwich Christine. It looks like it would be very filling. I like the idea of making tartar sauce also.

    1. The sandwich taste great and very filling. Thanks, Sandra!

  3. What an awesome sandwich!! Saving this one for the Lenten season. :)


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