The crawfish season in Texas and Louisiana is already underway. The timing is perfect. You’ve made all the plans and invited all your friends. And, nothing tastes better than sucking those bite-sized mudbugs, except maybe following it up with a swig of ice cold beer. But hosting the perfect crawfish boil may not be as easy as it sounds. Here are seven tips to help make your bash successful.
1. Find a good source!
It is always best to start with live crawfish. Occasionally, you can find good day-old crawfish if you live inland, but it is best to buy them live on the day of the boil. As a rule of thumb, you will need 3-5 lbs per person. When you buy the crawfish, transfer them to a large tub or ice chest and open the drain. You do not want them to sit in water, and replenish the ice as needed. When it is time to cook them, pour them into a tub for wash time.
2. No mud on your bugs.
Yes, they are called mudbugs for a reason. They live in streams, rivers and sometimes water-filled ditches. The Cardinal Rule is to be sure to clean them thoroughly. After you do, you will see how much filth comes off of them (grass, bait, trash, etc). You will appreciate the extra time it takes to ensure that they are clean. Nothing can ruin your crawfish boil like gritty food.
3. Designate a boil-master.
Find someone who can attend to the boiling pot at all times. Be sure that your boil master is up on the art of seasoning. For the stock, place the water, salt, peppercorns, and seasonings in a large stockpot with a basket insert, cover and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and let them cook for about 15 minutes. Then add in other popular veggie choices including corn on the cob, mushrooms, garlic and onions. Add lemons for a touch of brightness. Go easy on the salt, for the veggies sake. You can always go with the safest route and purchase an off-the-shelf seasoning specifically for crawfish boils. Bring the vegetables and seasonings to a boil and pour the crawfish into the cooking basket. Boil for 15 minutes or until done.
4. Stir the pot!
No, I don’t mean the small talk. Test and retest the crawfish by stirring the pot and releasing the heat. Pull one out. If the texture is rubbery, the tail meat is not done. If it is falling apart, it is overcooked. Firm crawfish meat is perfectly done.
5. Paper, plastic or both?
There is nothing neat or clean about eating crawfish. The perfect boil has to include plastic tablecloths (or paper newspaper), forks and cups. Of course, you will need plenty of paper napkins.
6. Time to suck.
Break the crawfish at the natural spot in the middle, then put your lips over the shell and suck in the juices. Peel off the first segment of the shell around the tail, then pinch the end to get the rest of the tail meat to pop out.
7. Grab a cold one.
Don’t forget the beverages. Ripping heads and slurping guts is a tiring job – but someone has to do it! To offset the spices and tastes that you’ve inhaled in, you will be reaching for your favorite beverage. It is important to have a couple of choices, but you might try selecting a hometown spirit if one is brewed nearby.
Lastly, enjoy the camaraderie and the food. While you are there to enjoy the great food, crawfish boils are just as much about good friends, good family and good music.