Here's How To Properly Eat Crawfish Like A Pro

a person eating a plate of crawfish
a person eating a plate of crawfish - MOHAMMAD ERFAN/Shutterstock

You're at your first crawfish boil, seated at a communal table covered with a plastic tablecloth or newspaper. An enormous platter with a mountain of red crawfish, boiled potatoes, and corn appears. The locals scoop up the "mudbugs," as they're sometimes called, and crack them open in seconds. During a single seating, these crawfish-eating pros can devour four to five pounds.  For anyone new to the tradition, the whole spectacle may feel overwhelming. What exactly is the proper way to eat these crustaceans? It may seem daunting and less-than-delectable, but the experience of cracking and peeling crawfish can be unceremoniously fun once you learn the proper technique.

Admittedly, there's a bit of an ick factor because you start by ripping the little critter in half. The meat in a crawfish is in its tail, and the only way to get to it is by tearing off the crawfish's head and claws with a quick twist. You could toss the head away, but crawfish connoisseurs will first suck out the delicious briny juices and "fat" inside. The yellow-orange crawfish "fat" is actually a liver-like organ that filters out toxins, and for some, eating it is essential to the overall experience.

Moving on to the tail, peel the soft shell at the tip of the meaty portion as you would peel a shrimp. Pinch the crawfish's flippers and with the fingers of your other hand gently tug out the meat. Peel off any remaining shell and pop that tender one-bite morsel into your mouth.

Read more: 15 Different Ways To Cook Fish

How To Enjoy The Full Crawfish Boil Experience

traditional Louisiana crab boil
traditional Louisiana crab boil - Bhofack2/Getty Images

During crawfish season, which can range from January to May, 46 restaurants along the Bayou County Crawfish Trail  in Louisiana specialize in crawfish boils. But if you chat up a friendly southerner, you may get invited to a backyard crawfish boil, which are popular all across Louisiana and Texas. Here's what you can expect: Depending on the crowd size, there will be buckets of live crawfish that are dumped into a huge cauldron of water with vegetables and herbs. The spices used in a crawfish boil are similar to any general seafood boil recipe, but what defines the Cajun crawfish broth is its cayenne-forward seasoning mix. The water isn't replenished during the boil, and as the cooking liquid evaporates, the broth and crawfish get extra spicy at the bottom of the pot.

A crawfish boil is an entirely hands-on affair, so you won't find silverware, but there will be plenty of napkins or even a simple paper towel roll at hand. Eating crawfish is messier than you might expect, and since bibs are frowned upon, it's a good idea to wear casual clothes. Everything in the boil is juicy and well-seasoned, so generally you won't see dipping sauces. The drink of choice is often cold beer or wine to offset the boil's spiciness, and as a guest, it's polite to bring along a six-pack or a bottle.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.