Posts Tagged by crawfish

Louisiana Crawfish Bawl…OK, Boil

Seafood boil
My brother called me a couple of days ago.  Seeing his number on the caller ID generally puts me in “what happened and is everyone ok” mode. Not that he never calls, but he doesn’t usually call without a pretty big reason.  This time was no exception…depending on your perspective. He was in the process of renewing the LSU season tickets. Remember…perspective.   My biggest takeaway from this phone call was his oh-by-the-way remark that he’d won a new boiling pot and gear at a silent auction at my nephew’s school.  My ears perked up!  It’s peak crawfish season right now and I love crawfish.
Crawfish boil
In South Louisiana, if you pop open a beer, a crawfish boil will break out!  You don’t really need much to have one once you’ve picked up the guests of honor. Folks back in the 50’s used to cook crawfish in big galvanized washtubs.  So all it takes is a really big pot with a way to heat it (think outside and propane jet burner here,) seasoning, the fixings and some newspaper.  This is a recipe shared by New Orleans legendary son, Mr. Frank Davis (moment of silence) via WWLTV.  (By the way, 40-50 pounds is the weight of a typical sack of live crawfish. That’s enough for 8-10 Who Dats from Louisiana or 20 out-of-towners!)

Frank Davis’ Perfectly “Bawled” Crawfish

For every 43 pound sack of crawfish, use:

1 whole bunch of celery

4 heads of garlic (tops removed)

12 lemons, sliced or quartered

6 large onions

10 bay leaves

3-4 boxes salt

1/2 cup cayenne pepper

8 oz. Zatarains liquid crab boil (or 6 bags Zatarains dry crab boil)

10 ears of corn (cut in thirds)

30 “B” size creamer potatoes (small reds)

3 lbs. smoked sausage

The first thing you do is empty your crawfish in a No. 3 washtub and cover them completely with cold water. Makes no difference where your crawfish come from (farm pond or swamp), the only thing you must do is wash them. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PURGE CRAWFISH IN SALTWATER! That’s an old wives tale. It isn’t necessary and it doesn’t work! All it does is kill the little critters! But it is necessary to wash them several times. I recommend you do at least 4 or 5 washings, dumping the old water after each filling of the tub. In short, you should wash until the water comes out clean. Then drain off the last rinse completely and get your boiler ready.

In a large pot – 90 to 102 quart is suggested if you plan to boil the entire sack at once – put in enough water to completely cover the crawfish when they are added, and bring it to a rapid boil.

Then, toss in all the ingredients except the corn, potatoes & sausage and boil them for about 15 minutes – you want the flavors to mix and create a seasoned “stock”.

Next, drop in the corn on the cob, potatoes and smoked sausage (the lagniappe – extras).

You want to put them in before you put in the crawfish (because the crawfish cook quickly, and if you don’t pre-cook the lagniappe, the entire boil won’t be finished at the same time).

Let the lagniappe cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

When all the extras are three-quarters done, add your crawfish and cover the pot. The water will stop boiling immediately. So here’s how you figure cooking time. Just watch the pot, and when the water comes back to a full boil, time your crawfish for just about 2 minutes, shut off the fire, and remove it from the burner.

Then drop some crushed ice on top of the crawfish, (which will make them sink), and soak the crawfish for about 25 minutes so that they pick up the seasonings.I do suggest you test the seasoning every 5 minutes or so to keep the crawfish from getting too spicy for your taste. Drain, serve and stand back!

Crawfish Boil 8

Serving and Eating

Gather your family and friends around a the biggest table you’ve got, push ’em together (the tables, not the family and friends!), whatever it takes.  Cover everything with newspaper and add some cocktail sauce, hot sauce, salt, butter and rolls of paper towels. Dump all the crawfish and extras down the center and dive in!

crawfish boil

Francis Lam explains the rules of the beloved crawfish boil.
1. You’ll be happiest meeting crawfish with a bottle of ice-cold beer in your hand, the cheaper the better.
2. Look for crawfish whose tails are curled under. Tails that stick straight out mean that the crawfish died before being boiled. And that means that they didn’t come to the party looking to make friends, anyway.
3. After you’ve been introduced to your crawfish, it’s time to break him in two. Hold the head and the part of the tail closest to the body in your fingers, and give them a gentle twist while pulling on the tail. This is where I refrain from making any juvenile “Do you like head or tail?” jokes. 
Eating Crawfish
4. Squeeze the head hard with your fingers, crushing it to release the juices, and suck. Spicy, salty and rich, this can be the best part. Be careful not to blow a blood vessel, though, by sucking too hard. Then everyone will have to get all concerned and wait for the ambulance to arrive, and the rest of the crawfish will get cold. Don’t be rude: stay alive.
5.  To get to the tail, peel off the first two sections of shell to expose the meat. Then, pinching lightly at the bottom with your thumb, gently pull the meat straight out of the shell. If you do this right, you’ll hold the vein down with your thumb, and you’ll extract the tail and devein it at the same time. If it doesn’t work out that way and you’re anal, you can simply dig the vein out with your fingers. But that will slow you down as everyone else keeps mowing down more crawfish.
Bottom line…don’t be shy. Go and get friendly with the crawfish before they all make friends with someone else. I know I will!
crawfish boil
Have you been to a crawfish boil?  We usually add shrimp to the boiling pot, too.  People add lots of things in addition to the corn, sausage and potatoes.  Mushrooms, artichokes, cauliflower…have any good ideas?  What are your tips for making flavorful boiled seafood?  How do you feel about boiled versus steamed?