Crawfish fanatics put more than just spice in their boils. They put time, effort, attention and maybe even personality and pride. It’s no surprise then that once they find a signature approach they’re bound to stick to it, and defend it.
But as a crawfish lover, as someone who is always hovering over the boiling pot and ready to wedge into a crawfish table, I’m fascinated by different techniques that give different results.
Consider the ice chest method, a technique you’re more likely to see in Cajun country than New Orleans. But sure enough at the Carrollton Avenue beer garden Bourree on Wednesday nights this month you’ll find a batch of it being prepared, first in plain boiling water, then over to an ice chest where the seasoning is added. In this vessel, it all steams together.
I had my doubts. But I was impressed: tender, bursting with flavorful juice and not overcooked, the bane of so many boils.
Then, there’s the style called Viet-Cajun crawfish. This is boiled crawfish caked with a thick coat of garlic butter and other seasonings. It’s rich, heavier, and usually much more expensive than regular boiled crawfish.
It’s a style that started in other cities and is finally boomeranging back to the crawfish heartland of Louisiana. You can believe it’s raised some eyebrows and draw some derision. But I’ve been enjoying digging into the variety at a handful of local places where it’s a centerpiece.
That list starts with Big EZ Seafood in Gretna, and Mr. Crab House and TD Seafood Pho House, both in Harvey. It’s on the menu at Boil Seafood House on Magazine Street and the Gert Town market C & A Seafood will add garlic butter by request.
None of this will replace the traditional Louisiana crawfish boil. But what I love about sampling all this stuff is the way different cooks within different schools of thought have their distinct styles, and the way each one is convinced theirs is the best. After all, even when crawfish goes off script it always starts with the cook.
Big EZ Seafood
1632 Lafayette St., Gretna, 504-272-0711
Boil Seafood House
3340 Magazine St., 504-309-4532
1510 S. Carrollton Ave., 504-510-4040
Note: crawfish only on Wednesdays through the end of May, from 5 p.m.
C & A Seafood
1429 S. Jeff Davis Parkway, New Orleans, 504-822-8497
Mr. Crabhouse Seafood
2245 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey, 504-324-6992
TD Seafood Pho House
1028 Manhattan Blvd, Harvey, 504-302-1727