I’ve never had a crawfish boil. Mostly, because I don’t know how to. So, it being crawfish season, I’ve decided to figure it out. I am culling all of my information from the internet–as I am wont to do–but I imagine real expertise has to be gained through experience. Well, anyway, here goes.
So crawfish season is roughly March-June. And, from what I’ve gathered, this year isn’t so great because of our unusually cold winter. This means the crawfish will be a little smaller and perhaps a little more expensive. That’s okay, though, we are undeterred! I called around and I found them for $3.29/lb. at Big Fisherman. For a crawfish boil you need a 35-40 pound sack, so it’s a bit of an investment.
Now you’ve got your crawfish, and you need something to cook them in. A 60-80 gallon stainless steel pot with a basket insert is ideal, and you put that on an outdoor high-pressure propane cooker. Now, as to the next step, there is quite a bit if debate about this. Some people maintain that it is important to “purge” the crawfish. This means pouring the crawfish into some sort of large tub and soaking them in salt water for a few minutes. Other people say just to wash them in plain water, without the salt; either way don’t leave them in the water too long, or they will die. And you want them alive until you boil them.
As to the recipe, again there is a lot of dispute, but I intuitively respond to this one I found at Gumbo Pages.
15 ounces Cayenne pepper
2 ounces tabasco
20 cloves garlic, cut in half, not peeled
3 dozen lemons, sliced in half
1 cup olive oil
20 bay leaves
4 ounces Louisiana Hot Sauce
2 pounds salt
10 bags of Zatarain’s Crab Boil
So fill up the pot a little more than half way with water, and throw all that stuff in there, bring it to a boil for 15 minutes. Add the crawfish, and then when the water comes to a boil again, add 10 ears of corn shucked and halved, and twenty small potatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the crawfish and layer it in ice chests with Tony Chacheres. A lot of people throw sausages, like Andouille into the boil. Mmm.
Then there is the art of eating crawfish. Here is an informative video, complete with weird, Herbie Hancock-esque music.