Cooking crawfish might seem like a daunting task for those who are not familiar with its preparation. For seasoned backyard and professional chefs, preparing crawfish can be both challenging and rewarding. Some people think preparing and cooking crawfish is time-consuming. Depending on the cooking method, cooking utensils used, and cooking techniques, cooking crawfish can be pretty easy. If you want to take a gastronomic adventure and prepare a new kind of seafood treat for your family or friends, cooking tasty crawfish is a brilliant idea. Read to know some helpful tips in preparing crawfish to help make your cooking experience more enjoyable.
1. Have the Proper Cooking Utensils
One of the least appreciated but essential keys to having a tasty crawfish boil is having the right utensils for cooking crawfish. You’ll need a gas burner and a large cooler (you’ll need two if you want to add beer for the boil party). Cooking a lot of crawfish can be a heavy task, and you will need a large pot to handle the load. Ideally, the minimum quart-to-pound ratio for the pot size is 2:1, where a 60-quart pot is a minimum capacity for boiling 30 pounds of crawfish. To give enough room for boiling and putting in other utensils like a boil basket, a safe choice would be a pot of 100 quarts in size or larger.
Do not forget to include the Hook’d On Pot crawfish basket hook or other types of basket hooks for safety and convenience while boiling. Basket hooks make cooking crawfish easier and safer because they keep the boiling basket steadily in place inside the pot. You only need to apply minimal adjustments in the placement of the basket and putting in and taking out the basket with handles that are easy to grip. Less work for your hands means more time to prepare or add other ingredients to heighten the flavor of your crawfish.
2. Make Sure to Have Enough Food for Everyone
You need to consider the number of guests you will be having to make sure that they have enough crawfish to eat for the party. Before you stuff and hook your boil basket inside your pot, keep in mind some logistical factors. A typical 30-pound crawfish boil can serve 6 to 15 people, which depends on whether you are serving crawfish as an appetizer or a main course. As an appetizer, one to three pounds per person will do. As the main course, you’ll need to serve three to five pounds. The serving can even be somewhere between five and seven pounds per person, especially if you live in Louisiana.
Typically, crawfish are sold by the sack, which can weigh around 30 to 35 pounds. A sack can contain around 450 to 500 crawfish, which may seem like a lot of crawfish for the uninitiated eater. In reality, you’ll be doing a lot of peeling to get just a handful of the sumptuous, juicy stuff. If you are not sure about how much to cook, a good rule of thumb would be to have more than enough for everyone.
3. Always Buy Fresh Crawfish
By fresh, it typically means live crawfish. Your best bet for buying a supply of live crawfish is from a local seafood wholesaler. These suppliers should not be difficult to find if you live in a mid to large-sized city. If you live in a smaller city or town, check first with your area’s food distributor if there are crawfish suppliers. You can also order crawfish online or drive to a nearby city to buy live crawfish. It can be possible that there is a handful of dead crawfish in a sack. For food safety reasons, throw away the dead ones when you prepare them. Make sure that a majority of crawfish in your sack is alive – it can be a problem if otherwise.
4. Prepare Crawfish in Season
Crawfish season typically begins in November and continues through June. Crawfish typically hit the market between these months. Following the law of supply and demand means you’ll save money if you buy crawfish within season due to its abundant supply. You can also be sure to get mature and large crawfish when it is in season. As mentioned earlier, crawfish are best prepared alive, and the availability of crawfish is seasonal, so plan your crawfish boil parties within the crawfish season.
5. Purge The Crawfish Before You Cook Them
Crawfish are found in muddy waters, which is why they are also called mudbugs. But don’t let this discourage you from cooking this tasty crustacean. You need to wash them thoroughly to avoid tasting a hint of grass, bait, or mud.
There are two ways of cleaning crawfish: the clear water method and the salt-and-water method. Some people may choose one purging method over the other, but both ways effectively clean and rinse crawfish to bring out their best flavor. Water purging preserves the natural taste of crawfish, and salt-and-water purging cleans and adds flavor inside the crawfish.
6. Don’t Forget the Vegetables
You don’t want to end up cooking a bland crawfish boil devoid of complementing flavors and parts. Potatoes, corn, mushrooms, and artichokes are the commonly added vegetables, but you can add other lesser-known but flavor-enhancing veggies. Homemade and traditional recipes may have diverging steps, ingredients, and methods of preparation for crawfish boils, but they generally place cooking of vegetables before boiling the crawfish. The steps may have different details, but a typical boil follows the preparation and cooking procedure below.
- Purge and clean live crawfish and discard any dead crawfish.
- Heat the boiling pot. To have enough room for cooking the vegetables and crawfish and for placing the boiling basket, fill the pot halfway full with water. For the safety of everyone, set up the burner and pot on a flat surface and away from foot traffic.
- Stir in the flavorings. Seasonings can vary, but you can add pepper, garlic, bay leaves, dry and liquid crab boil seasonings, and lemons. Cayenne pepper can be an optional seasoning for those who want a spicy boil. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
- Stir in onions and sausage. Let the water return to a boil and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Add the vegetables. Put the potatoes first and boil them for ten minutes before adding other vegetables. Let the water return to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Boil your crawfish. Pour them gently to avoid splashing and place the lid on the pot. Let the mixture return to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until the crawfish are bright red.
- Cooldown the crawfish boil by putting a thin layer of ice on top of it. It helps the water reach the ideal temperature for poaching the crawfish. Additionally, it keeps all crawfish soaked in seasoned water to absorb all the flavors.
- Test the crawfish for readiness by pulling out one or two crawfish from the pot and twisting their heads off. If the head is easily removed and the meat slides out of the tail easily, it is ready to eat. Remove the boiling basket using the hook and drain well before serving. Depending on how much crawfish you cook, you may need assistance with the removal and serving of the food.
Cooking crawfish can be pretty easy once you have the fundamental knowledge about its preparation. Like any other food ingredient, crawfish tastes best when fresh. Combine freshness with the right tools and cooking knowledge, and you open the possibility of creating delightful crawfish dishes.