While the Super Bowl madness and the Mardi Gras happenings are definitely the news-grabbers as of late, it's also important to point out that we are in crawfish season. And while I enjoyed the fun that came with the Super Bowl – I sat next to Deion Sanders at Acme Oyster House! – one of my favorite parts of this past weekend was my first crawfish boil.
A few friends invited Chris and I to get crawfish at Mid-City Yacht Club (which is not a yacht club at all, but rather a neighborhood bar with a creative name) on Friday, Feb. 1. Chris and I were super pumped because we have been curious about this whole crawfish thing. I was born in New Hampshire and he was born in Maine, so as native New Englanders, we have a special affinity for lobster. Lobster has been my favorite food since I was little. My brother and I used to race live lobsters on the floor before my mom cooked them in the big pot. Lobster is expensive so the fact that I could only have it on special occasions made lobster even more wonderful. After moving to Missouri, lobster dinners became more rare, but I have very friendly aunts and uncles who would cook lobster whenever my family returned to New England for a visit.
Yet even with my love for shellfish, I was a little hesitant about crawfish because they are not lobster. However, when my friend told me about the crawfish boil, I was curious. It turned out to be a fun and delicious experience, but I picked up some tricks I need to remember for my next crawfish boil. Hopefully these tips will help you, too.
Come with a strategy. Our friends gave Chris and I a mini lesson on how to eat crawfish when we each got our plates. They taught us to separate the tail from the body then eat the meat in the tail. You then suck out some of the flavor from the body and try to see if there's any meat in the claw. It's pretty much the same mechanics as eating a lobster, but the obvious difference is that crawfish are much smaller, so going through a whole plate of them takes some effort. From what I observed, it's important to have a strategy. You could be a lazy crawfish eater like me – I just ate the meat in the tails – or you could go hardcore like Chris and meticulously find all the meat in every tail and claw of every crawfish. Whatever you choose, keep in mind, this is not a meal to pick if you're in a rush.
Have plenty of napkins. Crawfish is not a clean meal; it is very messy and takes a lot of napkins and paper towels. There is no way to look attractive while eating crawfish. It's a mess and you'll have it all over your face. Wash your hands afterwards.
Enjoy crawfish with a cold beer. We were drinking Miller Lite while eating crawfish because the beer was on special. (More bargains!) I have been told the beer to drink with crawfish is Abita Strawberry. I tweeted at Abita last night and they responded saying that we should start seeing Abita Strawberry in stores late February or early March.
Crawfish is cheap! This isn't really a hint, but it was my favorite part of the whole crawfish experience. That big plate of crawfish you see in the picture above only cost $6! I added a tip, but it was still a bargain.
Don't eat the straight ones. This didn't come up at my first crawfish boil, but I have heard that you are not supposed to eat crawfish with a straight tail. Apparently a straight crawfish means the crawfish was dead before it was cooked, so it is not safe to eat. One thing I don't understand, though, is wouldn't boiling a crawfish take away any safety concerns? I plan to do a little more research on this because it does not make sense to me.
If you want to get some $6 crawfish, Mid-City Yacht Club (440 S. St. Patrick St., 483-2517) does a crawfish boil at 5 p.m. on Fridays (though it's not happening this Friday because of Mardi Gras). I recommend liking the bar on Facebook to receive crawfish boil updates.
Also, kind readers, I would appreciate any other tips you have for eating crawfish because I plan to do a lot more of it during the season. Crawfish is tasty!