Clam Po’boys

Clam Po'boy 01

The Po’boy is a type of submarine sandwich native to New Orleans and the Oyster Po’boy is a special variety loaded with fried oysters and other ingredients, including pickles, tomatoes, lettuce and either mayonnaise, or a sauce known as ‘Come back Sauce’ which is, as best as I can describe it, a bit like a seafood cocktail sauce without the horseradish. I have long wanted to try one of these but have not yet had the chance and, since oysters are WAY too expensive to import up here for such a use, I have decided to give my own version a try using Quikiqtarjuaq Clams … 

For this experiment, I am just making small sandwiches and, since the clams I have are super large, I am only going to use 4 per sandwich. They need to be deep-fried but, since I have recently shown you my method for doing that, you can simply refer to my post Deep-Fried Clam Appetizer .

For the whole dish, you need:

  • 8 large Clams (deep-fried in breading);
  • 2 small Submarine-style rolls (buttered);
  • 2 – 3 leaves Lettuce (shredded);
  • 1 small Tomato, sliced;
  • Mayonnaise (or sauce of your choice).

Clam Po'boy 02

Oyster Po’boys commonly include pickles according to many recipes I have seen but, for my version, I am making a sort of Tartar Sauce using mayonnaise, chopped pickles, capers and chopped  green onion. If you want to try this, you can basically add the ingredients in whatever proportions tickle your fancy.

The Construction

No special instructions here… just build your sandwiches in whichever way looks attractive to you but just make sure that the clams are still at least a bit warm when you do so.

The Verdict

Well… unfortunately, this creation found little favor at my house. I made my wife’s sandwich with just the strips and gave myself the whole clams but, sadly, we were both left unimpressed. It is too bad because, although I think I pretty much recreated the basic traditional sandwich, it just didn’t come close to what I was expecting. I *still* want to try it at a restaurant sometime and I hope it turns out to be a bit better than my first attempt 😦

9 thoughts on “Clam Po’boys”

  1. I’ve been thinking a few things regarding regional favorites since your post regarding the “Philly” cheesesteak that you had. If you’ll recall, I said that the sandwich you had wouldn’t be considered a Philly cheesesteak by people in Philadelphia*, and that in fact, it looked tastier than a “real” Philly cheesesteak.

    It seems to me that most people’s enthusiasm for their regional food is tied more to fond memories of the things they were doing when they ate it than it is to the actual food itself. My wife and I went to New Orleans last May (her first time, my second). Of course, we were practically required by law to visit Cafe du Monde for the cafe au lait and beignets. People rave about beignets; they’ve shown up in books, TV shows, and movies. When we had them, we realized that pretty much every culture has some variation on deep fried dough. Native Ameran fry bread, Connecticut pizza frite, funnel cake, the list goes on. And aside from minor variations in texture, they’re all pretty much the same. But the experience of sitting in New Orleans at 2AM, on my honeymoon, with my wife who to that point had never been more than a couple hundred miles from home? The beignets themselves may not have been anything amazing, but the *experience* was, and I don’t think it’s any surprise that our brains make a direct link between what we eat and how we feel.

    I think we also defend these memories unconsciously. There are people who will insist that you can’t get a proper cheesesteak outside of Philadelphia, and they will nitpick any sandwich presented to them to defend this position. Didn’t like the gravy for chicken fried steak? You just went to the wrong restaurant; if you’d gotten it made with *real* sausage gravy, you’d have loved it! Underwhelmed by po’ boys? Well, you didn’t use the proper french bread roll, and you used the wrong kind of oysters. Didn’t like Cincinnati chili? Oh, well, you should have gotten it at Skyline Chili. Oh, you did? Well, everybody knows the real deal comes from the firehouses, so you have to get it at one of their fund raising dinners or you haven’t really experienced it. My first time away from home was when I was an exchange student to Malaysia. The food there is often spicy, and I had never really had spicy food before. After I came home, for the next couple years I would eat insanely spicy things and laugh it off, saying that I had hotter in Malaysia. Then I went back for a visit… and the food really wasn’t all that spicy. I’d built it up in my mind to defend my memories, and because it made me feel special.

    But the fact is, most regional favorites begin life as something someone threw together in order to feed members of the working class for cheap. Divorced from the nostalgia for home, or the wonder of travel, or the weird snobbery of liking something that other people have never tried, the food itself is often nothing particularly special. For god’s sake, Philadelphia cheesesteaks are often made with Cheez Whiz! Cheez Whiz! They can’t even legally spell it ‘cheese’!!

    I’m now going to contradict what myself (I am large, I contain multitudes)
    There is in fact some truth to some of the things we tell ourselves to defend our fond memories of regional foods. If you didn’t use the particular type of French bread used in New Orleans, or freshly caught gulf oysters, or the comeback sauce, can you really call it a po’ boy? If you make your deep dish pizza with marinara, can you really call it Chicago style? On our honeymoon, we had the most delicious Bananas Foster French Toast*** We’ve tried twice to make it at home and have given up, because the bread we have available isn’t the same as what we had there, and how can we make something in our kitchen that can compare to discovering this little out of the way juice bar with delicious food at way too early in the morning?

    I guess my point is: when trying a regional cuisine, you are best served if you bear in mind how much these things can be built up, and keep your expectations low. That leaves you room for a pleasant surprise. And make all judgments tentative, because you may have just be a victim of available ingredients, or a lazy cook at a bad roadside restaurant.

    * I thought much the same thing when you posted about the chicken fried steak. No gravy? The steak is barely more than a medium for the delicious sausage gravy!

    ** I’m not a fan of fried clams myself, so I doubt I would enjoy a clam po’ boy. A po’ boy made with fresh Gulf shrimp, on the other hand, I would knock my own mother out of the way to get at

    *** Can I just say how much I love the fact that the French name for French Toast is “pain perdue”?

    1. Your comment makes me think of Jeff Smith (aka The Frugal Gourmet) who always said that he couldn’t present a traditional dish on any of his TV shows without someone writing to tell him he got it hopelessly wrong because ‘that’s not how grandma did it!’.

  2. That looks delicious, John! But I am sorry to hear that it was disappointing. I am a big fan of oyster po’boys, and a fried clam stuffed sandwich is pretty awesome too. What was underwhelming about it if you don’t mind me asking?

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