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How to boil Crawfish like we do in Louisiana, Cajun Style !
There are many variations of Cajun boiled crawfish, but this is the most common and the best boiled crawfish recipe I've used. The average man will eat about 5-7 lbs of boiled crawfish. Women eat 3-5 lbs. Don't worry about cooking too much. Boiled crawfish will keep overnight in a cold ice chest or fridge, assuming you have any leftovers. Just don't freeze them.
Ingredients for Cajun Boiled Crawfish:
- 1 (30-to-40 pound) sack of live Louisiana Crawfish. Ask for "Select" or medium sized ones. No one likes tiny boiled crawfish.
- 1-2 boxes of salt for purging
- 5 lb sack of small onions, peeled
- 8 oz. Ground Cayenne Pepper
- 2 (1 pound) boxes/sacks of Zatarain's Crawfish/Shrimp/Crab Boil Seasoning ( I also use one small bottle of the liquid crab boil, along with about 6 of the small pouches.)
- Whole mushrooms ( optional...but common)
- 8 to 10 lemons, sliced in half
- Smoked sausage, cut into large pieces
- 10 lb sack Small red or new potatoes, unpeeled
- 10 to 15 ears of fresh corn on the cob - shucked and cut in halves
- 6-8 heads of garlic, split in half
- And most anything else you want to add to the flavor of the water.
Step 1: Use a large pot, as a turkey frying pot and a hot burner such as a fish cooker.
EXCEPT for the live crawfish, fill the pot 1/2 full of water and drop in the onions, garlic, lemons, Zatarain's crawfish boil seasoning, mushrooms, cayenne pepper, and sausage, then turn the heat up, bringing it to a boil. Leave out the potatoes and corn cobs for now. DO NOT add the crawfish at this time !
Meanwhile, While your water is heating up, Purge the live crawfish. Use your garden hose and fill a few ice chests 1/3 full of fresh water. Add the salt. Now add a 10 lb bag of ice and stir it up, Carefully add the live crawfish and gently stir them a bit with a paddle. Let them sit for about 5-7 minutes. They spit up all the mud. Pour out the dirty water and rinse them until the water is reasonably clear. Dont just put the garden hose in the ice chest and let it run, allowing it to overflow, or you'll be chasing crawfish all around your back yard ! So be careful. Don't let the mudbugs sit underwater for more than a few minutes or they'll die, either. Speaking of dead ones, don't add them to your pot ! Throw them out. When the water is almost clear, then pour it all out and toss more ice on the live crawfish while still in the ice chests, keeping them cool but not frozen.
Step 2: By this time, your water should have been boiling for about 10-15 minutes. Now add the the potatoes and corn to the pot and boil for another 10 minutes. ( it's customary to drink a cold beer during this time)
Step 3: Add the live crawfish to the pot and drink another beer, allowing them to boil for 3-5 minutes after the water begins to boil again. Then IMMEDIATELY TURN OFF THE HEAT !
Now....here's a real Louisiana Cajun Crawfish boil SECRET: ADD a bag of ice to the crawfish water RIGHT after you turn the fire off. Some say it's the key to having juicy crawfish. Let the crawfish soak for 15 minutes with the fire OFF..
Step 4: While the boiled crawfish are soaking, make sure you have plenty of napkins and trash cans available. You might want some lemon slices on the table too. (Drink another beer.)
Step 5: Drain, peel and eat. Some people add more spice to them after they are cooked. I keep a container of Ball's Cajun seasoning in front of my plate. Some use a dipping sauce, and some eat them like they are. Don't eat the dead ones. Those are the ones whose tails are NOT curled. If the tail of a boiled crawfish isn't curled, he was dead before he hit the water.
Step 6: By now, you should know that drinking beer is acceptable during a crawfish boil, so you should have already drank another one or three. If not, then get to it !
Part time Louisiana food critic and beach bum in training.
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