sku spent a couple of years roaming around the entire state of Louisiana. He developed “a deep love and respect for Cajun food. Not the refined Creole dishes of New Orleans, but the rustic, fried seafood, jambalaya and gumbo of the Cajun country. The object of my deepest affection back then was the fried crawfish po’ boy.” And good Cajun food is one of the hardest things to find in Los Angeles, says sku—far harder than the Creole stuff.
Crawfish is hard to find west of Houston, says sku; the best you can hope for is a decent oyster po’ boy. “In the best version of this delicacy, the oysters are fresh and plump, flash fried and slapped on a bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayo,” says sku. “Then, you add hot sauce to taste, which for me, means enough to saturate the bread and blend with the mayo, turning it the color of Russian dressing.”
Most oyster po’ boys in California disappoint, says sku. But Big Mama’s version does not. “A smaller version than is typical, featuring just two large oysters, but biting into that po’ boy was one of those moments in life you treasure, when you realize that you have found something truly and unexpectedly wonderful. The first bite revealed a crisp, nicely spiced cornmeal crust encasing a beautifully cooked, huge, juicy oyster within,” says sku.
Note: Very little else at Big Mama’s is worth eating. sku thinks the ribs are unexciting and the catfish is musty-tasting. Other hounds agree: The rest of the menu is not worthwhile. But the po’ boys are a treasure.
Big Mama’s Rib Shack [San Gabriel Valley]
1453 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena