by Daniel Travers
There’s potatoes, corn on the cob, and of course crawfish, but beyond that every Cajun cook has a cherished recipe for a crawfish boil. To invite some friends over to test out different recipes, send out some crawfish boil invitations, order some crawfish and cover the picnic table with newspapers.
Remember that deep fry turkey cooker that’s lurking in the back of the kitchen closet? That is exactly what you need for a crawfish boil. The large pot with a tight fitting lid will be perfect. You will also need a wire basket insert to remove the crawfish and vegetables after they are cooked. The whole assembly sits on a propane burner. You will also need a large tub or ice chest (the one that the crawfish are shipped in is perfect), or a couple of bags of ice. A stirring paddle or long-handled spoon is useful too.
The best crawfish boil recipe starts with friends and family. The more the merrier. Add three to five pounds of fresh, live crawfish for each guest. CajunCrawfish.com ships them in 30 pound bags, which they say will serve ten people or two Cajuns. You will also need:
8 small onions
8 small potatoes
8 ears of corn
a head of fresh garlic
Many New Orleans cooks recommend Zataran’s crab boil, which comes in dry and liquid forms. If you are a DIY cook, Alton Brown has a recipe for crawfish spice mix, or if you just want to make it easy… and extra delicious, use the seasoning that comes with your crawfish order (it’s cajuncrawfish.com’s special blend). If you’re a foodie and want to mix your own… grind 1 tablespoon each of whole black peppercorns and whole coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons whole cloves and 1 ½ tablespoons whole allspice in a spice grinder. Mix ground spices together with 4 tablespoons cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 2 tablespoons paprika, and 1 tablespoon each of onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, dry mustard, dried dill weed, plus 6 crumbled bay leaves. Add the spice mix and 1 pound of kosher salt to 5 gallons of boiling water for the crab boil. This is enough spice to boil 10 pounds of crawfish. If using cajuncrawfish.com spice, use 1 bag per 10 lbs. of crawfish.
Add 5 gallons of water to the pot for each 10 pounds of crawfish. When the water boils, add half of the spice mix. Add the potatoes, corn, onions and garlic to the pot and cover. If you are adding andouille sausage, this is the time to add it, too. Let cook for ten minutes, then add the crawfish and replace the cover. Ed the Crawfish Master at the Cajun Crawfish Company says to watch for steam to escape from under the lid. When this happens, turn off the gas.
You can remove the basket from the pot and transfer the crawfish to an ice chest. Add one third of the crawfish to the chest, sprinkle with spice mix; add another third of the crawfish, sprinkle with spice mix, and then add the rest of the crawfish and sprinkle with more spices. You can also add two bags of ice to the pot instead of removing the crawfish. The ice will cool them down and they will sink to the bottom and absorb more spices.
No matter how you choose to spice your crawfish boil, it is served by dumping the crawfish and vegetables on a newspaper-covered table. Provide some melted butter and plenty of napkins! … melted butter is not necessary, they are delicious by themselves, but to each there own. Try them a variety of ways… always good.
Crawfish prices soar after cold spell
“A lot of guys weren’t able to go out for crawfish due to the cold and that’s affecting the price,” Donnaud said. “We were able to fill our orders for the Super Bowl, but we didn’t have as many calls as usual due to the price.”
Super Bowl weekend is usually one of the peak consumption times in the parish. Last week, The Seafood Pot was selling a pound of live crawfish for $5. Last year at this time, a pound was selling for $2.49.
“We dropped the price today (Tuesday) to $4.75 and it usually drops once a week,” Donnaud said. “Warmer weather should get the price down, but it really depends on the catch.”
Willie Hebert, of Hebert’s Seafood in Boutte, had a similar problem Super Bowl weekend. Though Hebert was able to meet the demand, the high price cut into the amount of business he usually has.
“The supply has been somewhat limited,” he said. “We were selling a pound (of live crawfish) for $4.69 and then the cold front before the Super Bowl increased the price to $5 a pound.”
Like Donnaud, Hebert expects the price of crawfish to drop soon, even though the weather is not cooperating.
“We had another cold front come through Sunday night, so we will see,” he said.
Though the size of crawfish has been small for a few weeks, both seafood vendors say they are getting bigger crustaceans this week than they were in the past.
“We had some smaller stuff before this week, but the crawfish we are getting this week is nice,” Donnaud said.
by Kari Beal
Crawfish season delayed, but critter fans don’t fret just yet
The cold weather is taking its toll on a Louisiana delicacy. Farmers tell us crawfish are hiding from the cold, and that means less on our plates. The big question now: when will the mudbugs be back? Turns out Mother Nature is the deciding factor.
“I have never seen it this bad,” says Stephen Minvielle, the Director of the Louisiana Crawfish Research and Promotion Board and Louisiana Crawfish Farmers Association. “In the past years, you get one or two cold days, but not extended weeks on and on like this.”
Minvielle picked up his traps this morning and had five crawfish at most in a trap. On a 70 degree day, he’ll see about 50. He said a combination of freezing rain and low temperatures are putting a halt on this season’s harvest.
“When it sleets like this it’s like taking warm water in a glass and pouring cold water into it. It’s going to change the temperature a bit or quite a bit,” said Minvielle.
He said research shows sleet causes water temperatures to drop 50 percent faster than cold air flowing over the water. This means the juicy, red critters we all love stay deep underground, hiding for the weather.
“They slow down dramatically,” said Minvielle. “We can bait them and sing to them, but they’re not going to get in the traps.”
He said the cold weather is also a concern for crawfish babies who are trying to grow. Usually it takes 90 days for a baby crawfish to grow to medium size, but in the cold it can take twice as long.
However, there is still hope. Minvielle said it’s been a good rain season. If temperatures warm up by the start of peak crawfish season, which is usually the end of February, our anxious fingers and hungry mouths can still dig into a steamy Cajun feast.
Checking our ponds today, we discovered that they were all frozen over. Check it out.
Schools are closing again tomorrow for two days due to another ice/snow/sleet storm coming our way tonight. The good news is that we are seeing a few crawfish… the bad news is that shipping avenues are closed to any live product right now. Hopefully at the end of the week we might be able to get a few out, will keep everyone posted as soon as I know anything. Make sure you are on the email list to be notified (www.cajuncrawfish.com). For SuperBowl, you might want to try Whole Cooked Crawfish, a great alternative. You cook it the same way without the issues we are having due to the freeze. I suggest you order early to account for any shipping delays. Cooked Crawfish will stay fresh for weeks as long as they are on ice… which we have no shortage of.
Much to the delight of our children, we have a snow day… in Louisiana! The crawfish on the other hand are not thrilled. The ponds are frozen over and we have snow on the ground. Even Southwest Airlines posted a note that they will not ship any “live product”… “seafood to plants” until further notice.
So crawfish lovers out there, pray for warmer weather! We will keep you updated.
The 2014 crawfish season is off to a very slow start. Due to extreme weather conditions, the crawfish who determine when the season actually starts have buried themselves down. January usually starts off the boiling season, but not so this year. We have started catching a limited supply, and we will keep you posted as we catch. We will be selling last minute (as they are caught) on a first-come first-serve basis through an email system. So make sure you are on our “crawfish update” mailing list.
The rain (which is good for crawfish) has finally stopped and Tropical Storm Karen is just a memory, so it’s back to finishing up with the addition. When finished, we will have an additional 2400 square feet. We are looking forward to the breathing room, it’s been a little tight lately.
Combines harvest the upper one-third to one-half of the rice stalk, and then separate the grain from the stalk. The straw is blown back into the fields, while the grain is collected in a large hopper behind the combine.
When the rice harvest is complete, crawfish will again take center stage. Preparations will be made to begin re-flooding the rice fields so the crawfish burrowed beneath them will come out with their babies and begin feeding on the recently cut rice stubble.