I’ve always held firmly that a sandwich isn’t perfect unless you’re wiping sauce off your face. It should be messy and entertaining; an all-out experience between two pieces of bread. The time-honored Po’boy is the epitome of that sandwich and one of my favorites.
This Louisiana classic gets a Midwestern flare with the use of walleye instead of the traditional shrimp, oyster, or catfish. In the restaurant biz, it was considered sacrilege to serve seafood with cheese, but I beg to differ and like to walk the edge whenever possible. The pan-fried cheese on this Po’boy is the perfect addition and adds an extra crunch factor, elevating the textural components of the sandwich.
The “fancy sauce” I used here goes on everything from burgers to fish tacos in my kitchen. It’s similar to the recipe in the movie “Stepbrothers” and some of the fast-food fry sauces out there but with a little more flare. The New Orleans-style seafood breading already has a nice kick to it but if you’re feeling really spicy, add a few shakes of Louisiana hot sauce before you dig in.
Time to make
2 eater-sized walleyes, filleted and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 hoagie rolls, sliced, buttered, and toasted
1 cup New Orleans-style seafood batter (I used Louisiana Fish Fry Products’ New Orleans Style Fish Fry Seafood Breading Mix)
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup milk
Vegetable or canola oil for frying
8 oz. bag of shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 fresh tomato, thickly sliced
3 cups green cabbage, shredded
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup mayo
2 tbsp. ketchup
2 tsp. yellow mustard
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
½ cup pickles, diced
½ cup onion, diced
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Also works with
Any firm-fleshed fish
Cast iron skillet or fryer
- To start, clean your walleyes and cut the fillets into 2-inch pieces. Place back into a cooler or the refrigerator until you’re ready to dredge and fry the fish.
- Combine all of the “fancy sauce” ingredients and mix well. Cover and set aside. Cut the cabbage into super-thin strips with a sharp knife. Take your time; it’s important that the cabbage is shredded finely so it has the best possible texture for the sandwich. Dress the cabbage with the citrus and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
- In a small non-stick pan, add enough of the shredded cheese to just cover the bottom. Turn the heat to medium-high and “fry” the cheese for 3-4 minutes. The cheese will melt together and form a crispy golden brown fond. When the fried cheese is ready, remove it from the pan and place it on a rack to drip excess oil or on newspaper to absorb the oil. Do not place on paper towels because the cheese will stick. Repeat until you have the desired amount of fried cheese for the Po’boys.
- Mix the cornmeal with the fish batter. I add cornmeal for extra texture. Place the fish pieces in the milk. Remove the fish and let any excess milk drip off. The milk will help the batter adhere to the fish. Dredge the fish in the batter and set aside for frying.
- In a cast-iron skillet, pour in enough oil to almost cover the fish, about half an inch. Use a fryer if you have one available. Bring the oil to 350 degrees. Fry the fish in batches for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Make sure to maintain the temperature for each batch of fish.
- Assemble the Po’boys! First slice, toast, and butter the hoagie rolls. My favorite way to prepare the rolls is to butter them and then toast the butter side down in a pan until it’s nice and crispy. Slather the “fancy sauce” on both buns. Start with pieces of fried cheese, then layer the fried fish, sliced tomato, and finish with the slaw. Splash on a little hot sauce for an extra kick.