Crawfish boils are a Southern staple. It's the one time that you shouldn't be afraid of being a little messy, since eating crawfish is a complete hands-on experience.
But wait, what exactly is a crawfish?
The word probably conjures up a vague image of a shrimp- or lobster-like creature, but many can’t say what exactly this crustacean is or where it comes from. The issue is further complicated by the fact that the aquatic organism has as many names as it does legs—crawfish, craydids, crawdaddies, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, rock lobsters, mudbugs, or yabbies’ are all among its multitude of monikers.
Crawfish are related to shrimp and lobsters, but the key difference is that they live in freshwater habitats. Crawfish are caught or farmed for food worldwide, with production centring on Louisiana in the United States.
Essential tips for eating crawfish
- Examine the crawfish carefully to see where the head and the tail meet.
- Push the tail into the head then twist it to separate it from the head.
- Find the first ring in the tail's shell and peel it off to remove the meat.
- Pinch the end of the tail while simultaneously biting into the meat to release it.
- If you'd like to eat the crawfish head go ahead and suck out the juices.
- Have a plate nearby to discard the shells while eating.
- Make sure to have plenty of napkins or paper towels on hand.
- Rub your hands with lemon afterward to help reduce the lingering seafood smell.
That being said, there is a lot of debate about the best way to eat a crawfish. Some people wonder how to eat a crawfish head while others just focus on the tail. Whichever part of the crawfish you'd like to enjoy we've got a fun video tutorial to help you get the technique right.
What is a crawfish boil?
A crawfish boil is an occasion in itself. This type of meal is popular in the Southern United States when crawfish are in season (normally from February to June). It is an important part of the Cajun culinary tradition, a Louisiana style that draws on the French, French Canadian, West African, and Spanish influences of the area’s complex history. The actual technique of boiling seafood was brought by the Acadians, a French-speaking group that were exiled to the deep south from the Atlantic provinces of Canada when it fell under British rule. Then, in a land where the mighty Mississippi’s fresh waters mix with the brine of the Gulf Coast, the flavours of so many traditions mingled too, giving us the Cajun spices of the crawfish boil and so many other dishes besides.
A crawfish boil can be as simple as boiling crawfish with spices or be a more elaborate meal featuring crawfish, potatoes, corn and garlic. Sometimes andouille sausage is added into the mix. The ingredients and accompaniments depend on the region.
Video: how to properly peel and eat crawfish
The following video features a handful of Louisiana natives explaining how they like to eat crawfish. Everyone offers his or her own spin on eating crawfish - some more efficient than others. Stay tuned till the very end, as you'll discover a very efficient technique to get the job done.