lbs crawfish (bugs)
- 1 Tbsp Black peppercorns — Grind
- 1 Tbsp coriander seeds — Grind
- 2 Tbsp cloves — Grind
- 1.5 Tbsp allspice — Grind
- 10 bay leaves
- 1 Tbsp dried dill weed
- 1 Tbsp mustard powder
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 Tbsp dried thyme
- 4 Tbsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp smoked paprika
- 8 Tbsp garlic powder
- 6 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper — Standard is around 40K heat units. For hotter bugs just use more - don't be shy. I've seen folks use about 3 cups (!) But don't use super-hot cayenne (e.g. 60K or 90K) which just give more heat without more flavor.
- 2 onions, white or yellow — rough chop and process to a paste in blender or food processor
- 3 ribs celery — rough chop and process to a paste in blender or food processor
- 2 heads garlic — rough chop and process to a paste in blender or food processor
- 48 quart pot with lid and removable strainer basket — Minimum size ( >= twice the amount of water )
- 6 gal water — ≈ 2 quarts per lb of bugs + shrimp
- 1 lb salt — kosher, canning/pickling, or sea salt. Not table salt.
- 8 oz Liquid Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil — Zatarains or LA Fish Fry. Shop around, prices can be weird.
- 6 oz hot sauce — Your favorite brand.
- 4 lemons — sliced in half
- 3 juice oranges — Anything but navel. Sliced in half.
- 3 lb small red potatoes — no larger than 2" (cut if needed).
- 2 lbs fresh whole mushrooms
- 8 ears corn — cut into halves or thirds
- 1 lb sausage — Optional but common. Andouille is traditional but any garlicky sausage will do. Cut into 1" pieces.
- 10 lb live crawfish — Purged and cleaned. ≈ 3-5lbs per seat.
- 2 lb shrimp — Preferably large head-on gulf shrimp. Unless you live near the gulf you'll need to get these frozen.
- a few bags ziplocks filled with water then frozen. — optional, used to help quick-cool the boil, which matters.
Spice Mix (or just use your favorite Crawfish/Shrimp/Crab boil seasoning bags)
- Unless using seasoning bags, grind peppercorns, coriander, clove, and allspice then mix together with the remaining Spice Mix ingredients. Fresh is best, but it's OK to do this weeks or even months (NOT years!) ahead of time if you seal it well and store it in a cool, dark location.
- Clean bugs by rinsing in the bag, then place in a large container (like a cooler) filled with cold water. Gently agitate with your crawfish paddle (you do have a crawfish paddle, right?) to loosen mud and debris. Inspect them in small batches by dipping a few at a time out and rinsing, discarding any dead ones. Then toss the dirty water and repeat until the water stays clear.
3 times should do it, but don't stop until you don't see dirt.
DO NOT STORE CRAWFISH LONGTERM UNDERWATER WITHOUT AN AERATOR or they will die. Keep them cool and moist, but not submerged for long. If you have to store them put them in a cooler with an open drain, tilted to ensure no water builds up, and cover with just a little ice. Check periodically to ensure the ice isn't all gone.
If you need to store them a day or two before you are ready to cook, place in a cooler with an open drain, tilted to ensure melting ice drains away, then keep them consistently covered with a little ice. Run through one more "clean and purge" cycle just before cooking, to remove any dead crawfish.
- Outside, Fill a large pot/strainer basket (at least 10 gallons) with 5 gallons of water. Place on a propane burner and turn the heat on full. Add the salt, the liquid Shrimp & Crab Boil, the hot sauce, the spice mix or bags, the flavor paste (onion, garlic, celery), and the sliced oranges & lemons. Bring to a full rolling boil.
- Add the potatoes and wait 5 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, corn & sausage, cover and return to boil. Wait another 5 minutes.
- Leaving the heat on high add the crawfish, return to boil, cover, and cook 2 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, add shrimp, quick stir, leave covered for 10 minutes.
- Toss in the ziplock bags of ice. While an assistant sprays the sides of the pot with a garden hose, gently stir the contents while frequently checking the temperature of the water. Continue until it drops below 150°F.
This quick-cool down is important. There is a nifty (but spendy) tool called the "Boil Boss" which can be a big help. DIY types can put one of their own together easily for about $10.
- Once 150°F is achieved, turn off the water, remove the ice bags, put the lid back on and let soak 15 more minutes. The crawfish are done cooking, but not done soaking up flavor.
- Drain and serve!
Do not add oil, butter or any form of fat the boil. It steals some of the oil-soluble flavors, and makes cleanup more annoying.
If you can convince your guests to put the shells (both bugs & shrimp) into a community pot without tossing in things like cigarette butts or soiled napkins, you can use them to make an amazing stock. They spoil quickly so freeze them right away if you aren't going to make the stock immediately. Also, think about whether you want to rinse the shells to get most of the spice off. If you prefer you can put that decision off until after you thaw. I like to leave it on, but it may not be appropriate based on your intended use for the stock.
Hardware: Paddle, Big Pot
Final product: Crawfish Stock, Po Boys, Etouffe
ALTERNATIVE METHOD FOR FINAL FLAVOR STEP: Do not add corn, potatoes or sausage at the beginning. After shellfish is done cooking, instead of the final cooling and 15 minute soak, working quickly turn heat down to low, remove shellfish and layer them in ~2" layers in an ice chest or their shipping container, sprinkling each layer with salt & boil mix (or already salted boil mix). Tightly cover the container and let them steam in their own heat for 15 minutes. While this is happening add the potatoes to the pot and bring to a full boil. Once just fork tender, add any remaining vegetables (corn, mushrooms, etc.) and sausage and cook 5-7 minutes.