Basics & Beyond: One Fish, Two Fish

Here are some new takes on the classic fish sandwich.

Heidi Gereighty

Director of Dietary and Food Services
Children's Hospital
New Orleans, LA

“The Fried Catfish Po' Boy is the best selling seafood sandwich, followed by the Fried Oyster Po' Boy and the Fried Shrimp Po' Boy. Soon, we are going to be adding a soft-shell crab.

“We use New Orleans seasoning in the batter for the sandwiches, a cayenne pepper blend. The batter is usually a corn meal blend, or some chefs use a corn flour blend. Around here, white flour is usually used only for fried chicken and corn is for seafood.

“The bread for the po' boys is New Orleans French bread. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. It's crispy on the outside, then soft and white on the inside. It's not high-fat, but it's not whole-grain; it's white flour. We have expanded our whole-grain breads quite a bit, and if someone wants to order that, it's available.

“When you are in New Orleans, if someone says ‘Do you want your sandwich dressed?’ that means with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce for a fish sandwich. We also have hot sauce for customers; they use that like ketchup.

“The po' boys are regulars on the cafeteria menu rotation. Always on Fridays, and then usually a couple other times a week, but not every day.

“In New Orleans, it's not really about grilled seafood. We do have a grilled tuna filet and a blackened grouper, but they don't stand a chance competing against the po' boys.”

Tony De Gregorio

District Manager, Aramark
University of Toronto St. George Campus
Toronto, ON, Canada

“The Grilled Atlantic Salmon Sandwich is served as a weekly special. It was introduced at the beginning of the school year at a grill concept we recently re-branded at Sid's Southside Café in the Sid Smith Cafeteria.

“It's a piece of salmon filet that starts frozen and is grilled to order. Salmon is definitely better that way — it's not sitting around, waiting. It gets nice grill marks on it, and it's been popular with students who want a healthier option.

“The customer decides if the sandwich is on pita bread, a wrap, a hamburger bun or on a salad. It's been most popular on top of a salad. With the sandwich options, you can choose from everything you'd normally get with a hamburger: lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, basically all the toppings. If a customer asks, it can come with a lemon on the side.

“This location is slated for renovations soon, and a major feature will be a salad bar. Students are requesting healthier food options.”

Sarah Lowell, RD, LD

Child Nutrition Dietitian
Pasadena Independent School District
Pasadena, TX

“We have a high Roman Catholic student population here, and ‘Fish on Fridays’ is a given. The hard part is finding new and exciting ways to offer fish and trying to encourage all students to try the heart-healthy entrée.

“We've adopted the motto ‘Variety is the Spice of Life,’ and offer different types of fish every week. We make the traditional fish sandwich with lettuce, pickles and tartar sauce that every school does, but we also make new and different sandwiches.

“We took the same fish filet on a bun and added a pineapple ring and ranch dressing to add some Hawaiian flavor, and our Hula Fish Sandwich was born. We offer it as a special every few months to keep the kids excited and anticipating variety.

“We have also taken Baja Fish Sticks and made Baja Fish Tacos with Cabbage Slaw and Ranch Dressing.

“Another variation we did was to make our USDA Commodity Catfish Strips (which are also great as plain fish sticks) into Fish Po' Boy Hoagies on whole-grain bread. A popular chain in our area serves fish po' boys, so the kids recognized these.”