Crawfish, crayfish, craw daddies or mud bugs as they're affectionately known in the South, are in season from the end of February to the middle of May. The miniature lobster look-alike grows up to 5 inches long and weighs about 2 oz. It's caught wild or farm raised. The meat in the tail and claws is sweet, what there is of it. If you're planning a crawfish boil, plan on 4 lbs. of live crawfish per person, depending on the other dishes you're serving and if your guests are true crawfish lovers.
Appetizer or Entrée
Most of the time crawfish is served as an entrée but you may want to offer it as an appetizer. If so you won't need anywhere near 4 lbs. per person. Plan on 1 lb. per guest as an appetizer. That may sound like a lot, but a crawfish only weighs about 2 oz. and a lot of that is shell. It translates to eight crawfish per person. Serve hot. A martini glass with a melted butter in the bottom dusted with Cajun spices makes a nice presentation. This is messy eating so offer hand wipes or warm wet wash cloths for cleanup.
Lunch or Dinner
Portions are smaller at lunch than at dinner, even when the same food is served. Dinner may go on for several hours while imbibing, talking with friends and eating. Lunch is usually over within an hour or so as people have made other plans for the rest of the afternoon. The longer the meal lasts the more food will be consumed. It's probably reasonable to plan that crawfish for lunch would mean 2 to 3 lbs. per person.
It's hard to believe but not everybody loves crawfish. Some may have a problem knowing that those little creatures were alive just moments before being devoured. And there are those that are squeamish and can't imagine eating something that will eat just about anything, including decomposing animal and vegetative matter. A considerate host will offer an additional entrée or two in addition to the crawfish. Consider a beef dish or chicken. This cuts down on the amount of crawfish required by about 50 percent.
Side Dishes Served
Potatoes and corn on the cob are the classic side dishes for a crawfish boil. Some purists boil them in separate pots with the spices and others throw everything into the pot with the crayfish. If you want guests eat less crawfish, serve a salad with crusty bread about 15 minutes before the crawfish are served. Another dish would be a spicy cream of crawfish soup with a whole cooked crawfish floating on the top. Both of these ideas work on the premise that it takes the brain about 15 to 20 minutes after eating to recognize you are full. The process is jump-started by offering an appetizer, soup or salad.
- What's Cooking America: Crawfish Boil
- ACES: Crawfish Farming
- Crawfish.com: How Many Pounds of Crawfish Per Person
- "American Cooking: Creaole and Acadian"; Peter S. Feibleman; 1971
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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