Zesty Crab Boil

Rev 0.50; last revised:  23-Sep-07

My cooking style is with fresh, whole, minimally processed ingredients.  My "flavor style" is towards bold, strong flavors (too strong, some say).  Wanting more than the "conventional" crab boil used in other recipes, I created a VERY flavorful and zesty (read: spicy) boil... with plenty of salt, spices and other "must-have" flavors.  I used, "Make it strong!" as my guide, and assumed that only about a quarter of what I taste in the broth will seep into the food.

The recipe below is intended for a 12 gallon pot and should feed about 15 people...or just barely enough to feed the 10 of us (with 3-teenagers...(:-o)!).  You should scale it for the amount that works for you.


Fill a large pot (~12 gal and fitted with a basket) with water, so as to come about halfway up the sides of the pot.  Add the salt and bring to a boil.

Add the potatoes, lemons, oranges, garlic, onions, Crab Boil, Tabasco® sauce, and pepper flakes.  Simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are just fork tender.

Add the corn and bring the water back up to a boil.  Add the shell-fish.  Cover and turn off the heat.  Let the seafood steep in the hot liquid for 5 - 6 minutes or more, until cooked (your "green" shellfish turns bright pink).

Meanwhile, cover the serving table with a clean, plastic-coated or otherwise liquid-proof "table cloth".  Lift out the basket, and allow to drain into the pot.  Dump the food on the table [for "smaller" parties, we use a large metal baking pan to serve upon].

Enjoy!  If you've never eaten Crawfish and would like to learn how, go here.

1)  Note the size of your pot and the amount of ingredients you wish to use.  Remember that when you add the goodies that the liquid  level will rise as you do.  When everything has been added, the ingredients must be covered with the spicy water.

2)  Make sure that the burner fits securely under the full pot and it's situated on a secure, level, and stable surface.  You could--at best--lose your food, or--at worst--be badly burned if it should tip and spill.

3)  This is a basic recipe for a yummy "crab boil" that can be used with most any shellfish alone or in any mix.  Consequently you can take advantage of what the market and season offers to create a seafood boil with your personal touch.

4)  The aromatic components (the lemons, oranges, and saffron) can be assembled to suit your own tastes (this allows you the flexibility to use more or less of a particular flavor).  You can do the same with my "Crab Boil" spice mix.

Purging the Crawfish:

If you're going to use live crawfish, you must thoroughly wash and purge and your crawfish before boiling them.  Begin by putting them into a large tub or ice chest.  Rinse them in enough changes of water for the water to run reasonably clear.  Then add more water to cover the crawfish and add 2-cups of Kosher salt.  This forces them to purge themselves of impurities.  Stir and keep 'em agitated for several minutes, then rinse them with fresh water.  After purging and cleaning, don’t leave the crawfish covered with water, as they need air to stay alive.  Keep the crawfish covered and cool until you’re ready to start cooking.
NB:  Take care to not let them purge too long, as this can kill them!  You don't want to add dead Crawfish to the boil.

How To Eat Crawfish:

Most seafood/shellfish is eaten with the hands.  Crawfish, in particular, are eaten with the hands (don't ask for utensils; you will only be laughed at).  There's a method for eating crawdads that must be learned in order to get them consumed.

With one hand, grasp the crawfish head.  Grasp the tail with your other hand.  Gently squeeze the tail end of the body close to where it joins the head.  Hold the head steady and gently twist the tail end, still applying pressure.  The meaty end will twist out of the head.

Put the head aside for the moment.  Slide a finger or thumb under the first few segments at the top of the tail and peel away the top partially expose part of the tail.  With the shell still partially intact, bring the tail meat to your mouth and sink your teeth into the exposed meat.  Chomp down on it, and it will pop into your mouth as you leave the tail behind.

The part that shows if you are a true Cajun or not is if you eat the head.  If you are, take the head and suck the hot, spicy juices out of it...or not!