Gear Up For Crawfish Season

Categories: How To

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Mardi Gras has come and gone, which means that crawfish season is now in full swing. The weather is warming up, and the price per pound for live crawfish is stabilizing (except for fluctuations in fuel prices). You, my friends, stand on the cusp of a decision: a) spend this year's crawfish season buying mudbugs boiled by others, or b) gearing up to boil your own and becoming a backyard legend. Choose b) and read on. Or, choose a) and join the masses at the trough.

The first step to doing anything well is having quality tools for the job. Think of your boiling gear as a three-legged stool consisting of a pot, a burner and a tool kit. A weakness in any one of these elements will make your boil a P.I.T.A.

The central focus of boiling crawfish is your pot. Size matters, people. You should use a pot that will easily hold one sack of crawfish (35-45 pounds) and accouterments unless you like working yourself to death, or you are cooking for no more than four diners.

You can get by with a 60-quart pot, but I'd recommend 80-plus if you're going to buy a pot. Once you're in for the expense, why not shell out a few extra ducats for more capacity? Don't forget about girth; opt for a wider, shorter pot if it's available, because it makes it easier to lift the basket out when it's time to serve. Stainless steel is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend it. Feel free to opt for a cheaper, aluminum model unless you're worried about upping your chances for Alzheimer's. Who are you, and where's my cheese?

The burner is where most folks fail, but you won't since you're reading this. "They" say, "a watched pot never boils." Well, brothers and sisters, a watched crawfish boil won't get lukewarm without the right burner, 'specially if you're trying to rumble 40 quarts at one time. Get a jet burner that cranks out the BTUs. Further, make sure the burner is sturdy enough to support the weight of your ginormous pot of goodness, which will be roughly 150 pounds if you're boiling a sack at a time. Feel free to take it off the rack, and jump on it. If it flattens, run away and try another store.

Your crawfish-boiling tool kit is a collection of essential equipment consisting of all the little things you need to get to the finish line. A properly outfitted kit is key, particularly if you're boiling anywhere but your home or restaurant. My suggestions are below:

Tackle box - All boxes are not created equally. Opt for the tackle variety, since the accessory trays are hinged and compartment sizes are adjustable.

Crawfish paddle - You need to be able to stir your cauldron. Get a wooden paddle (or go stainless if you're loaded). DO NOT use your fiberglass kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding equipment. No, this won't fit in your tackle box unless Ronco has developed one.

8 - 10" Ginsu chef's knife - You have lots of chopping to do. Use a knife that will cut through anything.

Utility knife - While not ultra-essential, you'll probably want to open your sacks of crawfish with something other than your prep knife.

Leather work gloves -
The basket will be hot and unweildy when you're ready to pour the bugs on the table. Protect yourself.

Chopping mats - Mats are essentially thin cutting boards that you can roll up and carry in your tacklebox. Stock at least one in your kit - more if you've got prep helpers.

Industrial pot scrubber and a small bottle of liquid dish detergent - I'm talking about the kind of thing that looks like the green scrubber on the back side of your sponge but is all business with a built-in handle.

Trash bags - Aside from the obvious, you should line the serving table with bags before you lay down newspaper, or else you could face an uphill battle getting dried paper off of the table.

Duct tape

An extended-reach butane lighter - Avoid burning off your eyebrows by lighting the burner with this. It's more reliable than rolling up a piece of newspaper.

Crescent wrench - You'll need this to properly tighten the regulator/burner connection should it become loose.

Teflon tape - Coat the burner threads with this before tightening down the connection to insure a quality seal in your gas line.

Did I miss anything? Sound off in the comments with your suggestions.

NOTE: Burners and pots can be had at most sporting goods stores. However, the selection is typically not very diverse. I'd suggest checking an online retailer like BoilCrawfish.com or Amazon.



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12 comments
Redwing
Redwing

Important Bottom line difference between Good Crawfish and GREAT Crawfish is the purging [evacute the crawfish] with Salt process in the H2O, Alot of Salt!!. Since they are called "Mud Bugs" here is the "why" behind that name. Please take the time to do this procedure, you will not regret it. 1 box of Morton's salt per 5-7 lbs. of crawfish, tub full of H2O, soak 5-10 minutes, be patient and wait. All the little critters will "definitely give up their last night's final meal, from both ends", the water WILL turn muddy. ALL H2O salt purge will need to be rinsed and repeat the whole method "Salt wash purge" once is good, twice on each batch is better, no mud taste when you bite in one. By the way I have never in my 6 plus decades have I ever seen a Cajun carrying ALL this stuff in his/her pirogue or bateaux. All these things are good to have, & especially bring a good appetite. I use NEW pantyhose, cut off each leg and fill each leg with the Zatarin's Crawfish boil seasoning bag, onions, several ears of corn, [cut in half] potatoes and several whole garlic blubs to season to taste and tie it closed. Put in 1 leg of panty hose per batch of crawfish. This "Pantyhose method" helps to make the scooping of all other ingredients easier to get out and put on the table. You'll find many takers on all vegetables, they will really be seasoned well.

Ill Bon Temps Rolette!

Scott
Scott

Items I like:

Large washtub for purgingCheap aquarium pump with rubber hose to aerate the purging waterSpider strainer for both stirring and serving.

We don't dump everything out when they are ready. Instead, fix everyone a plate and leave the rest in the boil. Then everyone serves themselves as needed for seconds, thirds, tenths etc. Crawfish, potatoes, sausage and corn stay hot, and the spice level grows the longer they sit.

Rookie
Rookie

Where do I get these "crawfish" you speak of?

Rex McCall
Rex McCall

Suggestion on the gloves: Get the rubber coated ones that are available at Lowe's. Thick enough to protect fingers from the crawfish pincers and from the boiling liquid. Won't get soaked like the leather ones. Also a crescent wrench sometimes isn't enough for your rig. Buy open end wrenches that fit every piece of your rig from the gas bottle to the fittings on the burner. My rig takes 3 sizes. Course, I have a 25 gallon tank to keep the pressure on my 330,000 btu burner using a 120 qt stainless pot

Bevoer
Bevoer

Please please please make sure you cover how to "evacuate" the crawfish. A lot of people don't, and it makes everything terrible.

GunsandTacos
GunsandTacos

Once you've procured all of this equipment, how do you boil crawfish? Part Two please!

JB
JB

Scott, good point about purging gear. I like to use a Rubbermaid tub for purging and transporting the crawfish from pick to the house without mucking up the truck.

My only concern about leaving the crawfish in the pot is that they will continue to cook as long as the water is hot, which could lead to them falling apart in the shell.

s h a w
s h a w

HEB, Fiesta, Louisiana Seafood, Viet Hoa, are groceries catering live crawfish (by the pound and by sack) last year. My neigborhood HEB sold them last weekend. Call them to find out.

JB
JB

Good point on the gloves, Rex.

JB
JB

Tune in next week!

Scott
Scott

I'm sure that could happen if you left the heat on, or left them in there long enough, but it has never been an issue in the 10 plus years we've been doing it. Things usually wind down after about two hours for our boils. At that point everyone pitches in and shells the rest-makes the best fettucini alfredo you've ever had the next day.

Rex McCall
Rex McCall

any potatos left over? Use them to make potato salad the next day. Great flavors

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