Crawfish crises!
July 1, 2006 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Um.. now that I have 20 pounds of crawfish, what do I do with them?

Friends were going to have a crawfish boil but had to go out of town unexpectedly so they just dropped twenty pounds of live crawfish on my door. I've never had a boil, never even been to one, and have NO clue as to what to do now. I've found some recipes online, but they all differ so much and all of them start from when you're ready to cook them. There's no way I can cook them today so a friend said I had to get them on ice to keep them alive until tomorrow. I busted open the sack, put them in a cooler, left the drain open, and poured ice all over them. Now what?
posted by Ugh to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Toss 'em in a big pot of boiling water (make sure it's a good hard rolling boil). Cook 'em til they're red. Add a gallong of garlic butter. Eat.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2006

I would think the thing to do is to call all your friends and say, "Hey, Someone just left 20 pounds of live crayfish at my door and I don't know what to do with them. Any suggestions?" At least one of them will know what to do, and all the others will help.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:49 PM on July 1, 2006

Best answer: There are a lot of crawfish recipes online. Basically it's simple. First you purge the crawfish, which essentially means you dump the bag into an ice chest and rinse until the water runs clear. Then you boil the crawfish in spiced water until they turn bright orange-red (only about 5 minutes if the water is really at a rolling boil). Then you remove the crawfish from the water, peel the tails, dip in a spicy sauce, and eat.

That's the outline. More detailed information online here. The article looks accurate and authentic to me, and I'm a Cajun.

Oh, and it should be noted that crawfish is not a dish that works very well indoors, so you should scout out an outdoor location where the messy process of peeling and eating can be accomplished.
posted by La Cieca at 1:26 PM on July 1, 2006

Best answer: Are you in Louisiana? (Your use of the word "crawfish" suggests that you are). If so, go to the grocery store and get Zatarain's (there are other brands too) crab boil (both the powder and liquid kind). When you get the water boiling, dump a bunch of that stuff in it. (I don't know what size pot you're using so just look on the back for amounts and multiply by 150%). Put in a fistfull of garlic cloves, some red potatoes, corn on the cob, onions. (artichokes are really good too). The crawfish take about 10-15 minutes to boil (you'll have to eyeball the rest). The first batch won't taste too seasoned, but keep at it and keep putting in the crab boil whenever you take a batch out. I don't know what places outside of LA have to offer as far as seasoning, so you may have to ask.

The most important thing is to keep seasoning the water and make sure the water is always boiling. That's why it would be good to find a propane boiler.
posted by Pacheco at 1:31 PM on July 1, 2006

Oh and you're going to need some kind of large metal basket to boil the crawfish in so you can strain the water as you take them out of the pot.
posted by Pacheco at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2006

Are you in Louisiana? (Your use of the word "crawfish" suggests that you are).

Can you explain? Are you saying that people that are not from Louisiana call it something else? What do you call them?
posted by nimsey lou at 1:46 PM on July 1, 2006

I hear "crayfish" a lot outside of Louisiana and no one who lives here would use that word...see Steven's comment above.
posted by Pacheco at 1:50 PM on July 1, 2006

Response by poster: Oops. I called a local seafood place and they said definitely don't put the ice directly on them. They're back in the sack now with blocks of ice set on top. The one website La Cieca listed said keep in refrigerator so I may just do that. They were really curious where I got them from because apparently they are out of season? I don't think they bought it when I said they just showed up on my door.

I went to the store and got slome powdered "Slap Yo Mama" crab boil seasoning. Didn't see any liquid. Oh and i'm actually a couple hundred miles north of LA, in Arkansas. A lot of people around here call them crawdads, but i've never heard crayfish. Thanks for the help so far.
posted by Ugh at 1:53 PM on July 1, 2006

Response by poster: Oh, can I boil them all at once if I have a pot big enough? Or is it better to do batches to get the seasoning right?
posted by Ugh at 1:54 PM on July 1, 2006

Adding a bunch of salt to the water when you purge is also pretty good.
posted by Pacheco at 1:57 PM on July 1, 2006

I would do it in batches to get the seasoning right.
posted by Pacheco at 1:57 PM on July 1, 2006

I live in California and the seafood places I've gone to call them crawfish. I know that crawfish and crayfish are the same, and I've noticed when you are buying the crustaceans for aquariums they say crayfish more. Maybe food places call them crawfish is because cooking them in large numbers and plopping them on the table originated in Louisiana (I've heard).
posted by lain at 2:16 PM on July 1, 2006

Do them in batches. As you add cool items to boiling water, the overall temperature of the water will drop, increasing the length of time it will take to cook. The smaller the volume, the faster the water will reboil, so you will actually save time by boiling in batches than all at once, with the added benefit that boiled shellfish keeps better flavour and consistency the less time it spends being cooked.
posted by solid-one-love at 3:10 PM on July 1, 2006

posted by growabrain at 3:16 PM on July 1, 2006

mm..crawdads..I haven't had them in so long. They're good with Old Bay Seasoning a healthy does of cayenne pepper and plenty of garlic and butter.

Here's a secondary slightly twisted suggestion.
Do you have any kids to entertain? After you shell them and pop off their heads, their heads fit perfectly on your fingers.
Get one on each finger and make them talk to kids. Trust love it!
(yes..I realize just how stupendously creepy that is)
posted by zerokey at 3:37 PM on July 1, 2006

great link growabrain! However, those guys decided to take the crawfish directly from the purge water into the pot without draining...kind of defeats the purpose, ewwwwh.
posted by Pacheco at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2006

It is quite late in the season for crawfish. Expect them to be tough to peel. Also, purge at least three times.

Oh, and discard the flat crawfish, for they are dead.
posted by ColdChef at 6:22 PM on July 1, 2006

And when you think you've added enough salt, add more.

My brother, who is a much respected crawfish chef, suggests that after the crawfish have boiled at a hard roll for at least enough time for the shells to turn bright red, pour a bag of ice into your pot. It causes the crawfish to suck in the salty water.
posted by ColdChef at 6:25 PM on July 1, 2006

Good advice above, only eat the ones who's tails have curled up, the flat ones were dead before they hit the boil. Make sure you don't skimp on the purging process, it gets the poop out of the tails. I would boil them ASAP, even if you can't eat them immediately, chill after cooking for later. Also, take a couple cans of whole potatoes and cans of corn, poke many many holes in each can and drop in the boil first. The resulting spicy corn & potatoes are yum!
posted by roboto at 7:22 PM on July 1, 2006

posted by geekhorde at 7:35 PM on July 1, 2006

The truth about crawfish boils
posted by Argyle at 10:14 PM on July 1, 2006

20 lbs. ain't that much. You only get about 1/4 yield, so you'll wind up with about 4-5 lbs. of meat after peeling. I've peeled and eaten 15 lbs. myself.
posted by wsg at 12:30 AM on July 2, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice, was a big success and we had 5 pounds left over which i'm hoping to make into a somewhat edible bisque.
posted by Ugh at 8:22 PM on July 6, 2006

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