We stuff this vegetarian twist on the iconic New Orleans sandwich with crispy, juicy, cornmeal-breaded shiitakes to substitute for the traditional fried seafood. A super-tangy remoulade sauce cuts through fat and inhibitions alike, getting you into the true, oops-one-too-many New Orleans spirit.
Why It WorksA vegetarian po' boy so good, it should be an instant classic.
- Getting the shiitake caps dripping wet before dredging ensures that the simple cornmeal–flour mixture clings to them.
- Meaty, juicy, and tender shiitakes are the perfect fried-seafood stand-in.
- For the New Orleans-Style Remoulade:
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Creole or stone-ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco
- 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Mushrooms and Sandwiches:
- Vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup fine cornmeal
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed
- 4 (6-inch) lengths soft baguette, split lengthwise (see note above)
- Shredded iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes, for serving
For the New Orleans-Style Remoulade: In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, hot sauce, scallions, and capers. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Makes about 1 cup; you can keep any leftover remoulade refrigerated in an airtight container and use it on sandwiches, as a dip, or on burgers.)
For the Mushrooms and Sandwiches: Fill a large pot with at least 2 inches oil and heat to 360°F. Line a wire rack with a double layer of paper towels.
In a pie plate or large shallow bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, salt, black pepper, and cayenne.
Wash 1/4 of the shiitake caps, and, while they are still dripping wet, dredge them in the cornmeal mixture.
Carefully lower the shiitakes into the hot oil (after a moment, they will bubble furiously, then settle back down). Fry, turning, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes; adjust heat to maintain an oil temperature of 340 to 350°F. Using a wire strainer, transfer mushrooms to the lined wire rack to drain. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining mushrooms, making sure they're very wet before dredging each time.
Spread the top half of each baguette piece with a generous amount of remoulade and layer with iceberg lettuce and sliced tomatoes. Pile each bottom half with the fried shiitakes. Close the sandwiches and serve.