How to Peel & Devein Crawfish

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Crawfish are a Cajun delicacy.
Crawfish are a Cajun delicacy. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Crawfish, a staple in Cajun cuisine, are a small, freshwater, lobster-like crustacean. While many people enjoy eating crawfish, those who are new to this Cajun delicacy are often confused about how to eat them. To eat a crawfish you need to extract the tail meat, which involves peeling and deveining the crawfish.

Hold the head of the crawfish in your dominant hand and grip the tail where it meets the head with the other hand.

Pinch the tail section where it meets the head using slight pressure with your thumb and index finger.

Twist the tail and pull it away from the head in a swift fluid motion to separate the tail from the body.

Discard the crawfish head, or suck the juices from the head if you prefer.

Pinch the sides of the tail gently to partially crack the segments. Do not apply too much force or you will crush the shell, which is undesirable.

Hold one side of the shell segment that was closest to the crawfish body. Pulling from the side use a circular motion to peel the shell away from tail meat.

Pinch the tail where the fanned part connects to the tip using your thumb and index finger, using the same amount of pressure as before. With your other hand, pinch the exposed meat and gently pull each end away from the other to extract the meat.

Devein the crawfish tail. The vein is a thin dark line that runs down the center, along the topside of the crawfish tail. Use your thumbnail to slide down the entire length of the vein to slough the dark trail away from the meat. Use a napkin to wipe off your thumb. The crawfish is ready to eat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid wearing white or light colored clothing because eating crawfish can be very messy.
  • Do not rub your eyes while eating crawfish; the spices from the crawfish can be irritating.

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