True Tabasckin twang

Louisiana po’boy: Another take on hand-held food.

To make one giant Po’Boy, or three little ones, you will need:
A baguette
10 to 15 prawns or a grilled hake fillet
1 onion
2 spring onions
2 tomatoes
Lettuce
Sesame seeds
Israeli pickled cucumbers
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard

For the Tabasckin sauce:
50g red chillies plus pips
20ml lemon juice
20ml extra-virgin olive oil
20ml grape vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ bay leaf

A freshwater fishing friend sometimes boasted about the Barbel Burgers he used to cook on the side of a dam somewhere near Kroonstad. Nothing like the taste of fresh barbel, the fish sushi chefs forgot. On the other hand, a fishy sort of roll is a great addition to the hand-held food collection. So here’s a local take on a Louisiana Po’ Boy revved up with the never before revealed veld-fire-in-your-mouth mystery of Tabasckin sauce.

We begin with the Tabasckin sauce. Clean up the chillies by removing the stalks and rejecting any partial or bruised specimens. Peel and crush the garlic. Pour all the ingredients at once into a food processor, rev to the red line and reduce the contents to slush. Decant into a sealable bottle.

This can be stored in the fridge and will improve – that is, get hotter and hotter – with time. Now for the Po’Boy. This is a traditional Louisiana delicacy, widely made and differently interpreted across the state. The combination of ingredients reveals the national influences of Louisiana, combining French bread with the widely obtained seafood crops such as oysters, shrimps and crawfish. And then there’s the magnificent hot sauces of the region, all based on chillies with the esteemed Tabasco as the king of them all.

Assembly time. In a small bowl mix three tablespoons of mayonnaise with two teaspoons of coarse mustard. Cut the baguette lengthways with a base two thirds of the thickness. This is a structural requirement to support the layers of additional ingredients arranged on top. The top third is a lid that keeps the stuff more or less on board and not all over your clothes. Begin with a thin layer of butter. Arrange a couple of lettuce leaves enhanced with some rocket and finely chopped spring onion tops. Lay the peeled, sautéed prawns on top of the lettuce. Layer three consists of thin slices of tomato. “Thin” is the issue here; too thick and the whole assembly becomes too wet.

Follow this with raw onion (optional, but wonderful) and thin slices of cucumber pickled in brine. These are more sour than vinegar pickles, and in this situation some sour is absolutely essential. Drizzle, spread or apply the mayonnaise-mustard mix, liberally drenched with Tabasckin sauce or one of its many derivatives. A teaspoon or so of sesame seeds adds magic and crunch. Fit the lightly buttered lid and away you go. And to drink? Two choices: either black espresso, hot and strong, or ice-cold Coke straight from the can.