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Apr 20, 2010 02:59 AM

Vietnamese cuisine and Crawfish Boils

My bestest friend's family is from Vietnam, 1975 refugees. When they first arrived in the US, her dad was one of the many Vietnamese who became a shrimper off of the coast of Louisiana. During my childhood, I ate at my best friend's house and her family's Chinese Vietnamese restaurant very often. I remember during crawfish season, her parents would go and buy a huge sack of crawfish and do a crawfish boil and serve that with dipping sauces. The live crawfish would be in our local Vietnamese grocery store, too. At some point, I started to see crawfish boiling places at Vietnamese American strip malls (in Texas, I have no idea how wide this phenomenon is, do they have these crawfish places in California, where many Vietnamese-American food and cultural trends start???). In the past few years, these Vietnamese style crawfish boil places have, like other types of Vietnamese restos and cafes, become very very popular beyond the Vietnamese-American clientele and crossed over to attracting a multi-ethnic and mainstream clientele. I realize that I have watched the evolution of a food trend.

I can see why Vietnamese like crawfish. It is delicious. But is there some other reason? Does the North American crawfish resemble some similar sea creature that is already popular in Vietnam and prepared in a similar way to a seasoned boil? It seems so different than langostine (I thought crawfish are N. American, please more info on that if you know). Or in Texas-Louisiana with our huge Vietnamese-American populations, did the Vietnamese adopt this crustacean and the 'boil' technique because of their connection to Gulf Coast shrimping?

Any input?

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    1. re: Davwud

      Amazing article. Thanks so much davwud.

      1. re: Davwud

        "The traditional Cajun way of making crawfish is to boil them with Crab Boil Seasoning and adding potatoes and corn before serving with generous amounts of Tony Chachere’s."

        That's no way to boil crawfish, not one person back home puts seasoning on after they are boiled, if they are boiled properly and the water is seasoned right, there is absolutely no need for seasoning after the fact. The only purpose tat serves is so people get it on their fingers and think the crawfish are spicy.

        I must admit I am curious to see a difference in taste when boiled with different spices, too bad there aren't any places up this way that do it.

        1. re: roro1831

          I'm thinking perhaps you're misinterpreting that.
          It's tough to tell because you're right that the statement is pretty incorrect. My suspicion is it's worded poorly.


          1. re: Davwud

            Actually I have seen places do it, especially in Texas where a lot of the Asian crawfish cooking started. Heck, there are even places in Louisiana that do that, the all you can eat places since it's cheaper to season the outside as opposed to seasoning the water properly

      2. The Boiling Crab kicked off the trend in LA in 2004. They're everywhere now. The fact that it's so popular in LA has helped spread the trend to unlikely places like Las Vegas.

        1. Check this man vs food episode at 6:50, viet crawfish place in Vegas.

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