When researching how to boil this Easter’s crawfish I came across The Boiled Crawfish Recipe at http://howtoboilcrawfish.com/. It made more sense than what we did last year. We decided to not do a whole sack for Easter but 10 lbs today, Saturday. Then, Sunday do 2 batches in my 42 qt. pot. This boil turned out well and will be repeated tomorrow, Sunday, with a few tweaks; i.e. doing the 4+4 correctly and using more cajun seasoning and crab boil concentrate.
- Purged 10 of the 32 lbs of crawfish–bought at HEB for $1.77/lb–with tap water. Flooded and dumped five times before the water was fairly clear.
- Washed four average red whole potatoes, cut three onions in half at the equator, broke one head of garlic into a half and toes; cut four lemons in half and squeezed into the water.
- Filled 40 qt. pot with 10 qts. for the 10 lbs of crawfish. Turn on the full fire. The amount of water was based on the advice of for 1 lb crawfish add 1 qt. of water*. That would be ok if the veggies and not left in the pot. As they were, the pot was almost too full as noted below. Likely, should have added 2 qts to this boil given the veggies.
- Added the veggies and Louisiana “Extra Spicy” cajun seasoning to the water and squeezed 4 lemons in the water. Add ~1/3 of the 1-sack plastic jar of seasoning. [the ratio hear and as found in other recipes is 1.5 lb seasoning for 10 lbs crawfish]*. As the seasoning was made up of two parts of leftover packages I weighted the combined weight and it was 1 lb. 3 oz.–not 1 lb. 8 oz that would have mean the “typical” ratio. So, added 2 oz of the standard seasoning we had bought for this year. Still, do not have 1.5 lbs but a little on my finger tasted very hot like pure cayenne. So, decided to leave it a little shy to not get it too hot. Note below that despite the extra spicy seasoning, that tasted very salty, the crawfish and veggies were mildly spicy and could have used more salt.
- He did not call for crab boil seasoning but I wanted to add it so made up one batch of our version of Zaterines Copy Cat per below. Added the mix to a pot with about 1.5 qts. of water and brought it almost to a boil several hours early. Turned it off and let seep with the lid on. When it was time to add to the big pot with seasoning and veggies it was a dark broth with a rather sweet, clove smell. [should not have added 100% more cloves]
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds & 2 tbl of Brown
- 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons whole allspice, some crushed
- 3 tablespoons dill seeds (orig is 2 so this is 50% more)
- 2 teaspoon whole cloves (orig is only 1) [this was too much as it almost smelled sweet]
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 8 bay leaves
- 2 T Cayenne
- 1T Course ground black pepper
- Add all sides (did not have corn) to the pot basket and put the basket in the water.
- When the water started to boil put the crawfish into the water by scooping them with the large wire ladle. He said to remove the basket and add crawfish ON TOP of the sides.
- Put the pot basket in the water.
- STEP 9 AND 10 TOGETHER SHOULD NOT EXCEED 8 MINUTES. He said to wait for water to boil or (if water hasn’t boiled) about 4 minutes. At 4 minutes, with the pot so full and many crawfish floating above the water, I let it continue to heat and at 6 minutes there were the small bubbles rising. Turned off the fire and left the lid on to soak for 4 minutes. That was not what he called for as it was to continue to heat for 4 more minutes; i.e. step 9.
- When you see first signs of boiling (or, if water hasn’t boiled, if 4 minutes have passed), start your timer for 4 minutes.
- When the timer went off, dropped in 3 frozen 2 qt. water bottles. By this time there is very little free water and the crawfish are jammed together. Shoved the frozen bottles into the pot. (Recipe says 1.5 bags of ice into his big pot, along with the frozen corn, and stir.)
- Let the mixture soak for 15 minutes, and then started testing for spiciness. Checked every 5 minutes and at the 20-minute mark, they had reached the max spicy as later tests were the same. Overall they soaked for about 30 minutes but 25 would have been the same as 30..
- If you have more crawfish to boil, remove any excess water [from the ice] from the pot to bring it back to your starting level.
- Add more cajun seasoning. If your last batch was too spicy, go for –in his large 60 qt pot– .5 to 1 lb additional seasoning. If it was just right, add 1.5 lbs. If you need more spice, add 2 to 2.5 lbs.
- Start back at step 5 until you’re all done!
Some of the ratios above came from Chris Freret, Owner of Geaux Creole Seasonings and winner of multiple crawfish cooking contests. His process sounds good with a 3-minute boil as opposed to the 4 minutes above. His comments sound like the advice with shrimp; i.e. do not overcook. “Overcooked crawfish break apart when you are trying to peel them and can be mushy.”
My quick notes immediately after this boil are below. I edited his recipe above to reflect this summary. This is the condensed version of what actually happened.
- Prep of the pot and veggies was the same as per recipe and above.
- When it reached a rolling boil added the crawfish. They filled it completely and some stuck out but eventually almost went under.
- Heated back up and at 6 min was small bubbles — not four like he said and I mess up and did keep the heat on for 4 more minutes like he said.
- Turned off the heat and let sit for 4 minutes but I should have left the fire on.
- At 10 minutes they had been 6 minutes to reach low boil then soaked hot for 4 minutes so hoped they were done–and they were. Adding the frozen water bottles.
- Tasted at 15, 20, 25 and 30 minutes of soaking and they maybe became a bit spicer after the 20-minute taste but there was no difference between the 25 and 30-minute tastes.
- Pulled into the small cube, shook on Kit’s creole seasoning stirring and shaking about 5 times.
- At 50 minutes open the lid and let cool off inside in the AC until Mary caught me and insisted they be taken outside to not stink up the house and to be cleaned. So, of course, that is what we did.
* The key is the 1 qt. water per lb of crawfish to set the dilution ratio. Then, 1.5 lb of seasoning per 10 lbs of crawfish in 10 qts of water.
They shelled nicely and were firm, not mushy, so they did not overcook. They also were not undercooked. So, the 6+4 minute process worked out although it was a bit different than his 4+4. I would have felt more comfortable if the last 4 minutes had been at the low boil rather than just below it. Kelley (who dropped in) said several times they taste very “lemony”.
Next time should be sure the crab boil concentrate is added or make a concentrate with our homemade spices that are pre-simmered as I did yesterday.