Boiled crawfish

Boiled crawfish

‘Mudbug’ may not immediately stir your appetite, but don’t be
put off by this nickname for crawfish. When they’re boiled right,
these little crustaceans are like crimson fireworks of flavour.

The apocryphal story sees lobsters slimming down when following the French Canadians, ancestors of modern Cajuns, after they fled to Louisiana. The reality? Native Americans likely introduced crawfish to white settlers. Well into the 1900s, crawfish were fish bait and food for the poor, but come 1960 with the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival, and with the embrace of Cajun culture in the 1970s and 1980s, crawfish became a wellloved icon of Gulf Coast cuisine.

You’ll need
15L (4 gallons) water
3–6 packages crab or
crawfish boil
½ cup salt
½ cup hot sauce
6 tbsp cayenne pepper
450g (1½lbs) small red
10 small onions, peeled
8 ears corn, halved
12 asparagus spears
2 heads garlic, halved
1lb andouille sausage,
chopped into 2.5cm (1in)
6 large lemons, halved
4.5kg (10lbs) live crawfish

Cooking Method
1 Fill a large pot with the water and add the spices, salt, hot sauce and cayenne pepper.
2 Cover and bring to a boil.
3 Place crawfish in a large container and fill with cool water. Stir to remove dirt from the crawfish, then transfer to a colander in small batches, and rinse under running water. Remove any dead crawfish or debris.
4 Once the water comes to a boil, add the potatoes, onions, corn, asparagus, garlic and sausage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
5 Squeeze the lemons over the boil.
6 Add the crawfish, cover and cook for
3–5 minutes, until the shells are bright red. Remove from the heat and leave in the water for about 10 minutes.
7 Serve on newspaper.

Tasting notes
A ‘boil’ (or in local dialect, a ‘berl’) is both a method of cooking crawfish and the name for a social gathering that features boiled crawfish. Friends and family gather around enormous pots; sacks of crawfish are lowered into boiling water that is laced with corn, potatoes and whatever else is about, plus a load of spices. To be fair, the final product is not always hot - but it’s certainly no surprise when a crawfish sears the tongue, and no boil is complete without plenty of beer, which both adds to the atmosphere and keeps mouths cooled off. Music is another inevitable accompaniment, and to this end, a good boil is the distillation of an outdoor Southern culinary gathering.

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