Sometimes you can cook outside, and it doesn't have to be bbq. It seems wild but it can happen. Cooking outdoors is one of my favourite things to do, I am that Canadian that pulls out their bbq the second the weather starts to turn nice and snow clears. I had to take advantage of the warm weather during my sabbatical in Florida so spent all my time cooking outdoors, even if it didn’t involve a bbq. If you want to cook indoors for this recipe, by all means, go for it. I was just enjoying the heat and sunshine and made a classic sandwich with a twist: my Bang Bang Shrimp Po' Boy sandwich.
If you haven’t heard of this kind of sandwich before, the Po' Boy sandwich originated in New Orleans and is made on a French baguette filled with either meat (like roast beef) or fried seafood (oysters, shrimp etc.), lettuce, tomato and hot sauce. I wanted to do a take on this sandwich, keeping with the fried shrimp tradition, but using a spicy Asian-inspired Bang Bang sauce. It’s a really simple mix of Sriracha, honey, hoisin sauce and mayo, but is packed with flavour. You still get a bit of spice like with a traditional Po' Boy sandwich, but a hint of sweetness from the honey, fattiness from the mayo and a salty-umami flavour from the hoisin. The lettuce, tomato and cucumber add a great freshness and crunch and can’t forget the perfectly cooked, tempura-battered and fried shrimp, the star of the sandwich. Keep reading to find out how to make my Bang Bang Shrimp Po' Boy or click here to jump to the full recipe.
The first thing you're going to do is blanche your shrimp to pre-cook it. In a pan or pot, bring water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add in your shrimp and let it cook for just a couple of minutes. You'll want to keep an eye out for the shrimp to change colour, to pink or white, depending what kind of shrimp you're using.
As soon as your shrimp are cooked, you're going to transfer them into a bowl filled with ice water. This is a step you don't want to skip as the ice water stops the shrimp from cooking. If you skip this step, you risk the shrimp continuing to cook after they're pulled from the water and being overcooked. You're still going to fry them so you definitely don't want them to be overcooked at this stage. The ice bath also helps the shrimp cool down.
While the shrimp cools, you're going to prepare the rest of the Po' Boy sandwich components. First up, is making the Bang Bang sauce. In a bowl, mix together your Sriracha, honey, hoisin sauce and mayo. Set aside.
Next, slice your tomato. I'm adding some cucumber to my Po' Boy, which isn't a typical ingredient, but I think adds a nice crunch. Cut off the ends of the cucumber and cut it in half. Stand up one half and slice into thin strips lengthwise. If you want you can marinate them in rice wine vinegar or sesame oil, I left mine as-is. Then, remove the leaves of your Boston lettuce, wash and pat dry. The last thing to prepare, is dicing up your chives into small pieces to use as garnish.
Finally it's time to prepare the shrimp. In a pan, add in your canola oil and make sure you only fill it about a quarter of the way to account for any displacement that will occur when you add in the shrimp. Displacement is when the oil level rises when you add in whatever you're cooking, if the oil is too high to start, you risk the oil spilling over which we don't want. While the oil heats up, prepare your tempura batter and peel your shrimp. To get that perfect tempura batter, I opted for a tempura batter mix, where you just whisk in cold water or club soda.
Once your tempura batter has reached the desired consistency, toss in your shrimp to the bowl and coat with the batter. Place the battered shrimp in the hot oil and allow to cook until the outside is golden and crisp.
When your shrimp are cooked, remove from the oil and transfer to a bowl lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil. Remove the paper towel and add in your Bang Bang sauce, about a couple tablespoons at a time and then toss to coat the shrimp. I add in the sauce in phases until I get the right amount of sauciness, chances are you won't use up all the sauce and that's a good thing because we'll also be using it to build our sandwiches.
To build your Po' Boy Sandwich, cut your bun in half, leaving it attached a bit on one side. Spread your Bang Bang sauce on the bottom bun. Put down your lettuce, tomato, cucumber, your shrimp and then sprinkle with chives for garnish.
And now for the full recipe...
Bang Bang Po' Boy Shrimp Sandwich
Makes 2-4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
For the Shrimp
6-8 Shrimp (size 16-20) per sandwich
1 box Tempura batter mix
Cold Water or Club Soda
Canola oil for frying
For the sauce
3 tbsps sriracha
3 tbsps honey
2 tbsps hoisin sauce
3 tbsps mayo
1 head Bibb lettuce
1-2 Beefsteak tomatoes
1 English cucumber
Chives for garnish
2-4 long rolls
How to Make It
The first step is to blanche your shrimp to pre-cook it before they’re battered and fried. Start by bringing water to a boil in a pot or pan and then add in the shrimp. Cook for about two minutes or until the shrimp have changed colour (to a pink or white colour, depending on the kind of shrimp you use). Immediately take the shrimp out of the hot water with a slotted spoon and transfer straight into a bowl with ice water. This stops the cooking process and helps cool down the shrimp.
Next, you’re going to prepare all of the toppings for the sandwiches so once the shrimp is fried you can start building your sandwiches right away. First, you’re going to make your Bang Bang sauce. Mix your Sriracha, honey, hoisin sauce and mayo in a small bowl and set aside. Then, thinly slice your tomato into rounds. Cut your cucumber in half and remove the ends. Taking each half at a time, stand it up to help you cut it in thin, lengthwise strips. If you want, you can marinate them in some rice wine vinegar or sesame oil, I left mine as-is. Take the lettuce leaves off the stem and wash them and pat them dry. Thinly dice the chives for garnish.
In a pan, add in your canola oil, making sure you only fill it about a quarter of the way to account for the displacement that will happen when you add in your shrimp. Displacement is when the oil level rises because of whatever you’re adding into it and it can overflow if you have filled it up too high. Turn your heat to medium, medium-high and allow the oil to heat up. Since the shrimp is pre-cooked, you can have your oil a little hotter because it’s going to be just a quick fry to get the outside nice and golden and crispy.
In the meantime, pour your tempura batter mix into a large bowl. Slowly whisk in cold water or cold club soda until you get the desired consistency for your batter. I don’t like mine too thick, but it’s a matter of preference. Remove the shrimp from the ice water and pat dry. Toss the shrimp into the tempura batter and once the oil is hot, add your coated shrimp into the pan. Allow to fry a few minutes on each side or until nice and golden. Don’t cook them for too long, since the shrimp was pre-cooked, you don’t want them to overcook, just get a nice crispy exterior. Once golden, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and put them into a bowl lined with paper towel to drain excess oil. Remove the paper towel, add in your Bang Bang sauce that you made earlier and toss to coat. I added in a few tablespoons of sauce at a time and if I want the shrimp more saucy will keep adding in more.
To assemble your sandwich, cut your bun in half, keeping one side still attached. Spread on a layer of your Bang Bang sauce to the bottom bun. Put down your lettuce, tomato, cucumber, the shrimp and then garnish with the chopped chives. And there you have it, the Bang Bang Shrimp Po Boy.
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