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Crispy Fish Po’boy Sandwiches with Lemon Tarragon Mayo

Close up of crispy fish po'boy sandwiches on cutting board with side of pickles and mayo.

These Crispy Fish Po’boy Sandwiches are slathered with lemon tarragon mayo and stuffed with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and homemade fish cakes made from King Oscar’s Boneless Skinless Sardines.

This recipe is sponsored by King Oscar | Thanks for supporting the brands I love and trust.

Cripsy Fish Po'boy Sandwiches lined up on a cutting board with a side of mayo and pickles.

Crispy Fish Po'boy sandwich with bite taken out of it.

I enjoyed my very first po’boy sandwich six years ago at a nondescript pub in Savannah, Georgia. It was piled high with fried breaded oysters, crisp lettuce, tomatoes, sweet pickles, and a whole lot of Southern heart. Since then, and since moving to the South, I’ve had my fair share of po’boys. Some stacked with fried shrimp; others crammed with fried crawfish.

Of course eventually, I developed an itch to make a po’boy in the comfort of my own kitchen.

I don’t deep fry at home often. For one, the smell lingers in the house for days, and two, standing over a pot of sparkling hot oil makes me feel greasy after just a few seconds. I was eager to find a way around this, and then it hit me: fish cakes. I tweaked my trusty fish cake recipe and turned them into little crispy morsels. They’re about the size of fried oysters or shrimp and totally hit the spot.

How to make Crispy Fish Po’boy Sandwiches.

Seriously, forget deep frying. These little nuggets are pan-fried and get so so crispy! After mixing your ingredients in a bowl, shape bite-sized morsels with your hands, and then roll them in panko bread crumbs. Once all of your little fish nuggets are breaded, fry them over medium-high heat in a frying pan with oil until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the pan, place them onto some paper towels to soak up excess oil, and let them sit for about 10 minutes while they set. In the meantime, prep your sandwich fillers and when you’re ready, build your sandwiches and mow down.

Lemon Tarragon Mayo.

What’s a sandwich without a fancy aioli or mayo? This lemon tarragon mayo is bright, herbaceous, and compliments all of the other ingredients perfectly. Not to mention, it’s a total cinch to whip together. All you need is prepared mayonnaise, lemon juice, and dried tarragon. I opt for dried over fresh since the flavor comes through a little stronger. However, if you prefer regular ol’ mayo, go for it. You’ll enjoy these po’boys no matter what.

King Oscar’s Skinless and Boneless Sardines in Olive Oil.

When it comes to canned fish, you don’t realize how overrated tuna is until you’ve had King Oscar’s skinless and boneless sardines. (Or their mackerel, for that matter.) These fillets are hand-packed with nothing but pure olive oil and salt, which makes them tender, rich, and perfect for a recipe like this. They’re also healthy, providing you with a healthy punch of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Po'Boy Sandwiches lined up on a cutting board.
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5 from 6 votes

Crispy Fish Po'boy Sandwiches with Lemon Tarragon Mayo

These Crispy Fish Po'boy Sandwiches are slathered with lemon tarragon mayo and stuffed with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and homemade fish cakes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Pescatarian, Pescetarian, Seafood
Keyword fish, king oscar, Poboy, Sandwich, Sardines, seafood
Author Dana Sandonato

Ingredients

Fish cakes.

  • 2 cans of King Oscar Skinless Boneless Sardines in Olive Oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning Or 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Lemon Tarragon Mayo.

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste if needed
  • 1.5 TBSP dried tarragon You could use freshly chopped tarragon, but the flavor may not come through as strongly; add more as needed.

Sandwiches.

  • 4 fresh French rolls or hoagies
  • Lettuce, sliced into ribbons
  • Tomato slices
  • Bread and butter pickles You can also use dill pickle if you prefer
  • 4 TBSP butter

Instructions

Lemon Tarragon Mayo.

  • Transfer 1/2 cup of mayo to a medium-sized bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle the lemon juice into the mayo bit by bit. You don't want your mayo to lose consistency and become liquidy. Taste it. If it's still a thick consistency and you'd like more lemon flavor, go ahead and slowly whisk in a bit more lemon juice. Stir in the dried tarragon and set aside in the fridge until ready for use.

Fish cakes.

  • Put the panko bread crumbs into a bowl and set aside.
  • Transfer the drained sardines into a large bowl. Mash them with a fork to break the meat into a flaky consistency. Add the lemon zest, Dijon mustard, Old Bay seasoning, and cracked pepper. Stir the mixture until it's well blended. Give it a taste and season with Old Bay (or salt) and pepper as needed. Finally, add the beaten egg and mix until well combined.
  • Form the fish cakes into bite-sized morsels (about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch thick, give or take) and roll them into the panko bread crumbs, covering them entirely. Place the breaded morsels onto a place or baking sheet until you're done. This recipe should make about 18 little fish cakes.
  • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, carefully place some fish cakes into the pan. Put down as many as you can fit without overcrowding the pan. Let the cakes simmer for about 1-2 minutes each side, turning them carefully with tongs, until breading is golden brown and crispy. When done, carefully remove the fish cakes and place them onto a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet to absorb excess oil.
  • When done, let the fish cakes set on the paper towels for about 5-10 minutes. They'll become more sturdy as they sit. In the meantime, prepare your rolls.

Sandwiches.

  • (Toasting your rolls is optional. If not toasting them, skip this part.) Slice your rolls open and butter the inside generously. Place the buttered sides down into a hot pan (you can use the one you used to cook the fish cakes if you'd like; the bread will soak up that extra flavor) until the inside of the bread is lightly golden brown and toasty.
  • Slather the lemon tarragon mayo over the inside of each roll. Then stuff with ribboned lettuce, tomato slices, and pickle slices. Finally, stuff your fish cakes inside.

Notes

If you have leftover fish cakes, they will keep in the fridge for three days—and they taste great cold as a quick snack!

6 Comments

  • Trish Bozeman
    November 27, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    5 stars
    OBSESSED with that tarragon mayo. Dana, this is absolute genius. I would never think to make a po boy at home, but you’ve made it look so easy. Gotta snag some of those King Oscar sardines and wow my husband with these. :)

    Reply
  • Sean@Diversivore
    November 26, 2019 at 12:00 am

    5 stars
    I ADORE a good po’boy. Problem is (as I was just saying to my lovely wife the other day) there’s not a lot of good Cajun food around where I live, so I haven’t actually had a po’boy in AGES. Then this falls into my lap and, well, it feels meant to be. Fantastic recipe for good canned fish too, as it plays so well against the various parts of the sandwich. Great stuff as always Dana. Cheers!

    Reply
  • Lisa
    November 25, 2019 at 9:25 am

    5 stars
    You are a po’boy NINJA! I usually only get my fix when visiting NOLA, but I don’t think I’ll be able to wait until my next visit now that you’ve shown me the way…. I also happen to have two cans of King Oscar sardines in my pantry — so this is definitely happening! I appreciate that you’re tasty fish cakes are not deep fried — it makes the whole dish feel less sinful!

    Reply
  • Marisa F. Stewart
    November 25, 2019 at 7:16 am

    5 stars
    What a clever way to use the sardines. I’ve never thought of making a po’boy sandwich of that particular fish. We do have a fryer we use outdoors – that would solve the odor problem and we love fried fish. I”m anxious to try out this recipe – I know we’ll enjoy it.

    Reply
  • Donna
    November 24, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    5 stars
    I just love that you made these with sardines! In an effort to be more intentional and sustainable I have started buying sardines, but really haven’t worked with them enough to feel comfortable using them in a lot of recipes. They are just perfect in this po boy!

    Reply
  • Gloria
    November 19, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    5 stars
    I always wondered what type of sandwich this is. I know hubby would love this for dinner one night this week. …and I know he would have the dill pickle option. I will look for this brand next time I am shopping.

    Reply

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