Crawfish Recipe

Here I’ve transcribed my father’s crawfish recipe. The original link still exists (Dad’s Crawfish Recipe), but he hasn’t updated the site in almost a decade. This page will be my copy of it.

Boiled Crawfish

Tools

  • Rapid gas (propane) burner
  • 60+ quart boiling pot with matching lid
  • strainer/colander, fits inside the pot (pot and strainer usually bought as a single kit)
  • 3-4ft. wooden cooking or boat paddle

Ingredients

Seasoning Mix

  • Dad usually buys the dry seafood boil mix from a commercial supplier. Some local seafood shops also prepare their own. The alternative is the cloth bags of dried spices to which you add salt. As a last resort, you can buy the liquid spices, but this usually results in a rather bland boil, unless you really spice it up a with more cayenne and salt. I have recently been using the dry spice mix (includes the salt) from Louisiana Fish Fry Products in Baton Rouge, LA (1.800.356.2905). Zatarain’s makes good stuff too.
  • 2020 Update:  This Spring, due to COVID-19 quarantining/social distancing, April and I decided to make several (8 total) small 4lbs batches of crawfish in our kitchen on a weekend in March.  We tested several types of seafood boil mixes, including Old Bay seasoning, Zatarain’s Crab & Crawfish Boil dry mix, Louisiana Fish Fry Crawfish Boil dry mix, Zatarain’s cloth crab boil spice bags, and Zatarain’s liquid boil.  The clear winner was Louisiana Fish Fry dry mix, it had the perfect balance of flavor, and it tasted the most Cajun of all the spices we tried.  Old Bay was the worst, followed by the Zatarain’s cloth bags.  Both of these were pretty bland, and required more salt and cayenne.  They also made the crawfish look dirty with all the spices clumping on them.  The Zatarain’s liquid boil was the surprise, it was pretty spicy (though lacked any other flavor to speak of).  If you’re preparing the crawfish for a mixed crowd (where some folks can’t handle spicy), Zatarain’s standard Crab & Crawfish dry mix wasn’t as spicy as the Louisiana brand, but that may have been because the Zatarain’s was expired (the label on the plastic jar said it expired in 2018).  We did not try the Zatarain’s liquid Pro Boil.  Maybe next year!

The rest of the Stuff!

 

This is for one sack (30-40lbs) of live crawfish

  • 12 medium sized lemons, halved and squeezed into the pot.  You may substitute 2 cups white vinegar if you don’t have lemons.
  • 6 whole onions, halved
  • 4-6 whole large garlic heads, halved to release flavor
  • 2 bags of small red potatoes
  • 8-10 ears of sweet corn, shucked and halved
  • additional cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup whole cloves

Optional items:

  • andouille (smoked sausage)
  • whole artichokes (the whole flower, not the canned hearts!)
  • whole mushrooms
  • Brussels sprouts (trust me, this is the one of the BEST ways to eat these!)
  • pineapple slices or chunks, if you’re feeling adventurous!

Crawfish Preparation

Obtain a sack of live crawfish and keep cool and wet until ready for the boil. Prior to boiling, empty the sack into a large container (washtub). Rinse thoroughly and drain. Do not leave the crawfish in water as they will die because of lack of oxygen. Some people add salt to the water to “purge” the crawfish. This is fine but do not leave them for an extended period in salt water and be sure to boil them immediately after purging since crawfish are freshwater animals. (Dad says he read of an LSU study [citation?] which says that purging crawfish is no longer necessary because they are now largely farm-raised, and hence aren’t full of mud like wild ones would be).

Set up for Boiling

Set up a large (60qt or greater) pot with strainer/colander well away from the house outside on a rapid gas burner. This is done because of heat, gas flame, and mostly the pungent aroma of the cayenne-spice mix. Fill 2/3rds with fresh water and start burner on medium to high heat. Add spice mix (and salt if necessary) and lemons. Additional cayenne pepper and cloves may be added at this time. Bring to full rolling boil. Add potatoes, garlic, corn, and other vegetables, stir. Return to a full rolling boil. Let corn and potatoes cook for about 5-10 minutes (depending on potato size).

Boiling the Bugs

When the pot reaches a rolling boil, put half the sack of crawfish (15-20lbs, if your pot is 60-80qt), or the whole sack (30-40lbs, if your pot is 120qt) . Stir gently (Dad uses a wooden boat paddle, I use one specifically designed for cooking like this). The crawfish will sink at first. Put the heat on high, cover, and return to a rolling boil. Cook the crawfish for about five minutes. Be careful not to overcook! The way Dad tells is that when the crawfish are cooked they will begin to float and sometimes cause the pot to overflow (Dad sez,”Dat’s another reason why dem crawfish are cooked outside, yeah.”). When most of the crawfish are floating, it’s time to turn off the heat. Do not remove them from the pot just yet, because now comes the most important part: let the crawfish soak up the spices. After turning off the heat, leave the crawfish to cool in the pot, soaking up the spices. Dad leaves them in the pot for up to 30 minutes or until they start to sink again. When they sink again, they are ready to spread on the table to finish cooling.

 

Enjoy dem mudbugs, spicy corn, potatoes, and other veggies!