The Cajun Crawfish Boil
If you are an American, chances are you enjoy seafood. The average American eats over 15 pounds of seafood each year. Shrimp, all you can eat crab legs, salmon, crawfish — it’s all delicious. Perhaps you want to expand your seafood game by looking for the best crawfish restaurant around town. If so, you are in luck. The best crawfish restaurant will always be a Cajun style restaurant. Cajuns did invent the crawfish boil, after all. Can you even call yourself the best crawfish restaurant if you don’t serve Cajun style food? That’s hardly a proper seafood restaurant.
The History of Cajuns
The Cajuns have an interesting story. Though Cajuns have French ancestry, the Louisiana group was exiled from Canada by British Imperial rule. Now we aren’t exactly sure why they were exiled, what we do know is that they brought some incredible cookin’ with them!
After being exiled from Canada, the Cajuns (originally known as Acadians) trekked down to Louisiana and lived in the swamps and bayous. Living in the bayous brought a host of challenges that needed to be tackled, including what to cook. The Acadians teamed up with the Native Americans and learned to combine vegetables, spices (like paprika and garlic) and crawfish into an excellent meal. Thus the first and best crawfish restaurant was opened in the swamps of Louisiana and America was given the gift of Cajun food.
How to Behave at a Crawfish Boil
If you are looking for the best crawfish restaurant, chances are you want to participate in the beloved tradition of a crawfish boil. Crawfish boils are true to gulf coast seafood and present a lovely introduction into Cajun cooking.
So once that crawfish gets slapped on your plate, what do you do? Here are some general thou shalts and thou shalt nots of a crawfish boil.
Thou shalt come prepared to eat an enormous amount of food. The average crawfish boil has three to five pounds of food prepared per person! Loosen the belt and get ready to chow!
Thou shalt wear dark clothing. Crawfish boils are messy. They are meant to be. Come in clothing expected to be splattered by delicious and savory juices from the boil.
Thou shalt remove watches and rings before eating. By this point, you understand that you are eating with your hands (hopefully). No need to mess up your pretty jewelry. Take it off and dig in.
Thou shalt keep water handy. The best crawfish restaurant isn’t going to mess around with the spices. Crawfish is going to be nice and spicy. If you are new to crawfish boils, keep some water handy for when you can’t keep up with the heat. In fact, water is not refreshed between each crawfish boil which means the meal gets spicier and spicier as the night goes on. Which is exactly the way it should be.
Thou shalt choose your crawfish with care. Choosing your crawfish isn’t like picking out a puppy. It isn’t a tender moment. Make sure you know how to choose a good crawfish. Look for a crawfish with a curved tail. Straight tail crawfish were dead before they hit the boil and taste rotten. Most cooks try to weed these out, but sometimes they slip through.
Thou shalt suck in the juices. For the brave of heart and strong of stomach, before you peel the crawfish try putting your lips to the opening on its body and drink in the juices. For serious crawfish experts, crack and suck the juices from the crawfish head as well.
Thou shalt break the crawfish properly. The proper place to break the crawfish is its natural waistline. Break it elsewhere and you will end up splattered.
Thou shalt peel the tail. After sucking the juices, you are ready for some meat. Start at the top of the tail and peel each shell off. Once the meat is exposed, pinch it and pluck it out. Delicious!
And for the shalt nots . . . there is really only one:
Thou shalt not wear a bib.
Next time you find yourself asking Siri, “Where can I get fresh seafood near me?” be sure to find a crawfish boil.