J.R. Tolkien

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R. Tolkien

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Crawfish Boil for Cheap in Your Own Backyard

*Updated 3/16/2018*

We just had our largest and best tasting crawfish boil a few weeks back, more than 90 lbs all together. It only took us 5 years to get it right!  A few friends asked for the recipe so I’m updating this post with a new recipe and a few techniques we picked up along the way. 

Buying crawfish.  Crawfish season runs from mid-January to July, so plan accordingly.  Asians love crawfish, therefore for non-coastal cities, the best place to pick up reasonably priced live crawfish is from an Asian grocery store.  The crawfish are larger in size and the price tend to be better mid to late season, averaging around $3.50/lb. 

In Louisville, call or stop by to order the crawfish on Sunday (especially if you want a large amount).  Shipment comes on Wednesday evening.  So the best time to have your boil is Thursday when the crawfish is at its freshest.  My grocery store of choice is A Chau Grocery (5107 S. 3rd St, 366-9830).  Other ones to consider are Viet Hoa (on Preston Hwy), Vietnam Oriental Market (on S. 3rd St), or Binh Phuoc (S. 3rd & Southside Dr). 

Cleaning crawfish.  This is the worst part! Crawfish are mud dwelling creatures so they’re full of dirt.  You’ll need to clean it well before boiling.  We got two large tubs from Walmart, $5 each.  One to dump all the crawfish in (since they come in a mesh bag) and one to put in cleaned crawfish.  Clean them by putting a small batch in a large laundry basket at a time (my husband drilled holes at the bottom) then use a garden hose to hose down the crawfish until the water runs clear. Make sure to pick out any dead crawfish and throw them away.

Gather your ingredients (for 35 lbs).  I rather have more ingredients than less, so this is on the higher side.  Adjust the corn, potatoes and sausage depending on your preference.  You can definitely tell I love corn:

  • 2 bags of baby red or golden potatoes: cut into halves 
  • 6 packages of Hillshire Farm sausages: cut into bite size chunks (this is very popular)
  • 20 ears of corn: cut into thirds
  • 2 bags of Louisiana crawfish boil seasoning (16 oz)
  • 4 bags of garlic: smash 1 bag, chop the rest
  • 10 -12 sticks of butter
  • 8 to 10 lemons: cut into halves
  • 5 limes: cut into halves
  • 2 bags of oranges (or orange juice): cut into halves 
  • 1 bag of white onions: cut into smaller sections
  • Cajun Asian sauce, 2 tbsp of: Louisiana crawfish boil seasoning, sugar, lemon pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, Old Bay seasoning, Knorr chicken bouillon, fish sauce (optional), crush red pepper

    Cooking.  Use your turkey fryer with the basket for easy cooking.  I recommend doing it outside.

  • Make the broth: 
    Fill the pot 1/2 way with water, bring to boil.  Add: 1.5 bags of Louisiana seasoning (2 bags if you like it super spicy), 2 sticks of butter, a handful of smash garlic cloves and onion.  Squeeze the juice of a few: oranges, limes, and lemon into the pot.  After you squeeze the juice, put the rinds into the pot.  We didn't measure how much, so depending how much citrus you want in your broth, adjust it to your taste.  I like mine a bit on the citrusy side.  Boil the broth for 30 - 45 minutes.

    Cooking your fillers: Put sausages, corn, and potatoes in the broth.  You can cook these in small batches or all depending on the size of your pot.  Cook these for an additional 15 minutes, take out and put in a container.

    Cook the crawfish
    Bring the pot back to a boil.  Fill your basket 3/4 full of crawfish, bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes.  Cut off the heat and let the crawfish soak for 30 minutes, this way it won't be overcooked. Lift the basket of crawfish out and put in a large container.  Add the precooked corn, sausages, and potatoes to the crawfish container.

    Asian Cajun.  You can eat the crawfish right after you cook it, but this Cajun Asian sauce makes it extra special and delicious.

    To prepare the sauce (for 10 - 15 lbs): melt 8 sticks of butter, add in 1/2+ cup of garlic and saute in butter until fragrance.  Then add in the list of seasonings mentioned above.  Squeeze in 1 lime, 1 lemon and 1 orange (add more to your taste).  Leave rinds in the mixture.  Mix everything together well on the stove and let it cook for 5 minutes.  Then, pour the sauce over your crawfish.  Mix with crawfish and serve!

    The recipe is similar to this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKxlnzR67dg

    Batches. You'll probably cook more than one batch.  Between every 2 batches or so, adjust the broth by adding in more Louisiana seasoning, onions, oranges, limes and lemons.

    Clean Up. Make sure you seal trash bags and clean up everything well.  Crawfish shells and dead ones can be smelly and lead to maggots in your trash cans.

    We had a great time at our crawfish boil, hope your will be a success too!

    *Thanks Mom Doanh and Tam for the photos!
    If you want to skip the cooking, the University of Louisville has their annual craw fish boil for $5, all you can eat. Here for details.