The Southerner's Handbook

How to Throw a Crawfish Boil

A one-pot Louisiana feast

Photo: Cedric Angeles

Step 1: Fill up the propane tank and spread the newspapers thick. It’s time to start cooking. Even if you’re not from Louisiana, your crawfish probably should be. For mail orders, New Orleans chef Donald Link, a Louisiana native who attends at least a dozen boils each February-to-June season, recommends Figure three pounds per person, or “five to seven if the crowd’s experienced,” Link says.

Step 2: Choose your method. A New Orleans–style approach involves boiling crawfish in water heavily seasoned with Tabasco, garlic, lemons, bay leaves, lots of salt, and bags of seafood boil mix (Link likes Zatarain’s or Louisiana Crawfish Co.) for about fifteen minutes. In Cajun country, crawfish are flash-boiled for three to five minutes, then transferred to an ice-filled cooler, crop-dusted with a powdered form of the same spice blend, and left to steam for 45 minutes. “That way, that prize piece of yellow fat in the head remains intact,” Link says. Either way, beer is the refreshment of choice. “I like Bayou Teche’s LA-31,” Link says, “but really, Budweiser, Miller Lite, anything easy-drinking will do.”