How to Eat Crawfish
There’s a knack to eating these delectable critters, but it’s not hard to master. Grasp a crawfish with the tail in your dominant hand, and the head in your other hand. Twist and pull the tail segment to detach it from the head.
At this point, true aficionados will lift the crawfish‘s head to their mouth, and squeeze, slurp and suck. It’s not pretty, but it’s the key to enjoying your crawfish to the fullest extent.
To eat the crawfish tail, peel back the shell at its widest point, then pull the meat out with your fingers or teeth. Discard the shell halves and dig in for another one!
More About Crawfish
Crawfish are often associated with Louisiana, and with good reason. The state produces about 90% of all crawfish consumed in the U.S., and some estimates say that they consume nearly that amount, as well.
There are over 30 separate species of crawfish that flourish in the swamps of Louisiana, but the majority of those produced for food are red swamp crawfish or white river crawfish. The largest species in the world is the Tasmanian giant freshwater crawfish, which tips the scales at an astonishing seven pounds!
Crawfish season – when the crustaceans are most plentiful and therefore inexpensive – runs from late February through June. Nowadays, crawfish are available year-round, so you can enjoy these sea creatures any time you get a craving for them.
In addition to being boiled up and served steaming-hot on newspaper-covered tables, crawfish are also served in classic Cajun dishes like etouffee, po’boys, gumbo, and jambalaya. You might even see them on pizza or in burritos!
How to Choose Crawfish
When selecting your crawfish, remember that bigger isn’t necessarily better. Large crawfish actually have a lower meat-to-shell ratio than medium-sized ones. Smaller ones are best saved to use in recipes, so choose mudbugs that are medium in size, sometimes labeled “select.”
You should also plan to buy your crawfish the same day as you’re going to boil and eat ’em. Like their larger crustacean cousin, the lobster, crawfish should be alive when they go into the pot. Sort through your crawfish haul and remove any that are dead.
Preparing for a Crawfish Boil
They aren’t called mudbugs for nothing. It’s important to clean crawfish thoroughly. Do this by rinsing them in cool water until the rinse water is clean. Otherwise, you run the risk of giving yourself or your guests a mouthful of silty, sandy water.
If you’re wondering how to eat crawfish neatly, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Like lobsters and crab legs, crawfish are messy. It’s traditional to cover the table with sheets of newspaper to help contain the shells for easy cleanup afterward.
You will also need to provide plenty of napkins!
For a good old-fashioned crawfish boil, plan on between three to five pounds of crawfish per person. It’s always better to err on the side of generosity; you don’t want to deprive your guests!
On the off chance that you have leftover crawfish, they are just as delicious the next day, whether eaten plain or incorporated into a new dish. Use them up in a delicious bisque, made into a salad and served on frankfurter rolls like a lobster roll, or chopped and added to gumbo.
What to Serve with Crawfish
Classic accompaniments include corn-on-the-cob halves, small potatoes, and bite-sized pieces of smoked sausage. Many people also add whole button mushrooms, whole heads of garlic, whole small onions (or larger ones sliced in half), halved lemons, and/or artichokes.
Crusty bread is a welcome addition to a boil, and of course, any Cajun dish such as jambalaya or gumbo would kick the party up a notch.
Since hosting a crawfish boil isn’t an inexpensive way to entertain, consider asking guests to bring a side dish to pass around. That way, you can round out the menu and provide plenty of food for non-crawfish eaters.
Beer is the traditional beverage for a boil, but it’s always a good idea to provide non-alcoholic drinks as well.
Ready to Cook Your Crawfish?
The best crawfish boils are held outdoors, so you will need a propane-fueled burner that’s large enough to accommodate your pot. Figure that you will need two quarts of water for every pound of crawfish. Naturally, it may be necessary to cook the bugs in batches!
Several companies make a seasoning mix for crawfish boils. Add that to the water while it’s heating. When the water has reached a boil, add potatoes and any aromatics. Cook them until just fork-tender, then throw in the corn and remaining vegetables.
Lastly, the crawfish themselves join the party. Return to a gentle boil and cook for five to seven minutes. At this point, turn off the heat, but let the crawfish continue to sit in the cooking water for at least half an hour to imbue them with the flavors of the spice mixture.
Dump everything onto the newspaper-covered table, and dig in!
Still Intimidated By the Boil?
If you don’t have the necessary outdoor space, or if you think that hosting your own crawfish boil seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to, there’s an easier way. Come on down to South Bank Seafood Bar!
We cook ’em, and all you have to do is know how to eat crawfish. Heck, we’ll even show you how, if you’re new to this crustacean!
Now that you know how to eat crawfish, come on down for a delicious meal. We’ll see you soon!
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