Most foods don’t come with eating instructions because--let’s face it, most of the time all you need is a fork and a knife and the rest is pretty self explanatory. But some foods present a bigger challenge and hold a larger mystique. One in particular is the boiled crawfish.
What is the best technique? How do you get all that tail meat to come out? To suck the head or not? And whether you planned it that way or not, there is always the added element of competition, because someone at your table is bound to turn your crawfish boil into an amateur crawfish eating contest.
Anyone who has young kids has the added challenge of picking the crawfish meat for their little ones to eat and still exhibiting enough dexterity and fortitude to keep at it long enough to have a chance to eat him or herself.
So what is the trick? Twist, crack, pinch, chomp.
First, using your thumb and forefinger, grasp the head of the crawfish with one hand, and the base (or abdomen) with the other; twist just below the crawfish head and above the abdomen. Discard the head.*
Crack and peel the first ring of the tail off at the top of the abdomen for a clearer passage for your crawfish meat.
Place your thumb on the underside of the end of the crawfish tail while supporting the shell with your index finger, as you press the tail meat upward and out of the top of the abdomen.
With the shell still partially intact, bring the tail meat to your mouth and chomp down firmly on the edge of the crawfish meat with your teeth, and the meat will pop into your mouth.
Repeat steps 1 through 4 about 100 times, and make sure to stay hydrated!
*Sucking the head is optional. Be careful with your technique if you do opt to suck the head since inhaling that spicy seasoning can cause you to break out into a coughing fit of seismic proportions.
If you are looking for speed, then you might forgo sucking the head and leave the other goodies, such as boiled red potatoes, corn on the cob, garlic and onion until you’ve shown your mettle sufficiently.
And if you’d rather enjoy your crawfish without all the work, you might simply choose a steaming bowl of Crawfish Étouffée or Crawfish Nachos, where you can eat your Louisiana crawfish unencumbered by the shell.