It’s May and, while that doesn’t mean much of a temperature change here in South Louisiana (except for a little bit less rain), in many other parts of the country it means that spring is well on its way and summer is close by.
But, what we lack in climate shifts, we make up for in other ways that help us Cajuns tell what time of the year it is, and May brings one of the best months for everyone’s favorite mudbug: crawfish. Typically, this month is the best time for a crawfish boil, because they’re bigger and in better supply than they are earlier in the season, which means not only do they taste better, but they’re usually on the cheaper side than, say, January or February.
Everyone here in South Louisiana knows the traditional way to boil crawfish: big pot, lots of seasoning, corn, potatoes and maybe even a couple heads of garlic, some mushrooms and a few small sausages to “spice things up.” But, if for some reason you’re tired of the traditional and looking for unconventional ways to boil crawfish, here are three unique takes on the Cajun delicacy.
Thanks to Vietnamese and Louisiana migrants making their way to Houston, a melting pot of flavors combining both cultures has made its way into the city. While this technique doesn’t change up how the crawfish is boiled, it introduces a completely new set of herbs, spices and aromatics that alter the flavor. Instead of Cajun spice, you get buttery, citrusy, herby flavors that compliment the crawfish and other goodies just as well as the traditional cayenne, garlic and onion we all know and love.
We know, calling them “crayfish” is right up there with pronouncing Lafayette “Loffayette,” but kräftskivor (the Scandinavian word for “Crayfish Parties”), have been held in Sweden since the 1800s. A plague in the 1900s almost completely wiped the crawfish population out, making ownership of a pond in the area something to prize, as crawfish there today are both still hard to come by and incredibly expensive. This method is a completely different way to cook crawfish; one that doesn’t require a large boiling pot and serves them up cold alongside fresh dill instead of hot. They’re also marinated overnight in a mixture of their own cooking liquid, dark beer and more dill to concentrate the flavors into both the claw and tail meat. While this is far from the Cajun tradition, it’s definitely a tradition that has been around as long as we’ve been eating crawfish here in Louisiana!
Sichuan Ma La Crawfish / 麻辣小龙虾
It may almost have “Mais la” in the name, but this Beijing technique is far from Cajun. Trading the traditional boiling method for a hot wok and cooking oil, it’s not only a different flavor profile; it completely changes the texture of the crawfish from what we Cajuns know and love. But, with lots of dried chilis, garlic, peppercorns and ginger, it offers a high level of heat for those looking to kick their crawfish up a notch or two. If you’re handy with a wok, reserve a couple pounds during your next boil and try this recipe out; it’s a different and interesting take on crawfish that’s worth experimenting with!
Whether you’re more for the traditional seafood boil or looking to try something different, cooking is always about doing what you love and adding a lil’ lagniappe to spice things up. Stop by The Best Stop today in-store or online to browse our selection of seasonings, meats, sides and more to make your next big meal something to remember.