What I was thinking was, “I wonder if this is enough remoulade slawbedoobedoobeebapbapbap.” And “…the yogurt curry marinade for the chicken came out perfectly tonightskidoooobebabidabidappadabooo.”
And no, I wasn’t in the midst of a medical emergency.
I was in the presence of a legend.
I had an incredible thing happen to me last Saturday. I catered an event where the surprise musical guest was Wynton Marsalis. And, though I’m not heavy into the jazz scene, man, to cook for two hours straight, while listening to him perform, was a thing of beauty.
I’m shy. One of the greatest perks of being a caterer is that I can attend a lot of amazing events without having to confront any of my social fears. I can hide behind my tuna tartare or mini cheeseburgers while still getting an adrenalin hit off of the buzz in the other room. It’s also true that I’ve found my stride with my career now, and can ease my foot off the clutch a bit to truly enjoy moments like the one I was having.
I reviewed my trays filled with Mac and Cheese Croquettes with a Lemon Aioli; Wild Mushroom, Comte and Thyme Tartlets; Smoked Mozzarella, Arugula, Tomato and Basil Bruschetta; and Avocado, Edamame Sushi Hand Rolls twisted into delicate cones. I knew that I was in the right place. I knew I had done a good job. But there was one app that was feeling a little underwhelming, and it was one that I had been really excited about – the Mini Shrimp Po Boy.
The complacency of my 20’s or even 30’s now long gone, the day after my big party, I set up the kitchen for a po boy intensive. I wanted to figure out why my sandies had been good but not showstopping because I think these little guys could be the hit of the summer for me. The components were there for sure. Instead of pairing the fried shrimp with a condiment or two, I had made a a remoulade that popped with horseradish and hot sauce and soothed with tarragon and lemon. I combined it with cabbage and carrots to make a crunchy, spicy slaw that would give any normal condiment a run for its money. The flour/corn meal dredge for the shrimp was also undeniable – with a sprinkles of salt, garlic powder, white pepper, and a pinch of cayenne. I fear the biggest issue was that the mini rolls I had baked were a bit too hard a chew for the shrimp.
I focused on a different approach and made some mini challah buns – which were the perfect texture for the sandwich. Not too hard, not too soft. The buns were sweet and tender- just the right combination to stand up to but not compete with the intensity of the slaw and shrimp. I kept telling myself I had not yet perfected the sandwich and then I realized I had eaten about 40 of them without changing a thing. The biggest problem of setting up a test kitchen is success. Today, my tree-trunk thigh girth proves my accomplishments. You’ll thank me for doing the work for you. They are outstanding.
Wait! Mr. Marsalis, come back! They’re perfect now!!!
Mini Shrimp Po Boys with Remoulade Slaw
Yeild 2 cups
- 2 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon- or Creole-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons grated horseradish, fresh or prepared
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce such as Tabasco or Cholula
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1/3 cup finely chopped scallions
- 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
- Juice from ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ½ head green cabbage
- ½ head red cabbage
- 2 carrots
- Put the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar and paprika in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 2 minutes and then slowly add the oil with the machine running. Add the remaining ingredients, one by one, with the machine processing and season to taste.
- Grate the green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots and mix with remoulade (you might not use all the remoulade in the slaw).
- Vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
- 1 pound rock shrimp
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Mini Rolls, sliced open
- Preheat fry oil in a deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat to 350 degrees.
- Pour buttermilk into bowl. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, garlic powder, white pepper and cayenne in another bowl.
- Dip rock shrimp in buttermilk and then dredge in flour/cornmeal mixture. Add breaded shrimp to the hot oil and fry them 4 to 5 minutes or until firm and deeply golden all over.
- Put teaspoon remoulade slaw onto bottom of roll and a shrimp on top, another dab of slaw or extra remoulade and you’re ready to go.