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Apr 7, 2011 05:29 PM

Help with Crawfish

Need help. Have never done them before and want to boil them for a get together on Saturday. My local seafood market has been getting them, but they sell out. If I buy them on Friday, how do I keep them alive or store them until Sat? I am afraid if I wait till Sat they won't have any. Do you purge crawfish or do they just go right into the pot? There is so much different info on the internet. And any recs on how to boil them etc would be helpful. Here in Maryland we just don't do crawfish!!

Also, how many pounds should I look at per person? I've seen recs of 3-4 pounds per person, but we are also doing oysters three ways. Fried, steamed/grilled, and raw.

Thanks for your advice!!

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  1. Hi there! I'm a Louisiana native living in Maryland. We've done several boils over the years. I highly recommend ordering from They'll deliver before noon on Sat for an extra fee, but if you get them on Friday, we just open the box, rinse them off, maybe throw in a bit of ice if it's hot out, and cover them back up to prevent raccoon theft. We've based the number of pounds ordered by going through our guest list and estimating how much we thought each guest would consume. We have a few who eat crawfish like Cajuns, but most will just eat about a pound then go for other food. If you don't really know, stick with 2-3 lb per person since you have other food. If you have extra, just peel them and make etoufee later.

    1. Most crawfish these days are farmed in fairly clean conditions (in rice paddies here in California), so I would not purge unless they came encrusted in mud. 3-4 pounds makes sense in Louisiana if that were the main course, but for a side a pound should be fine, especially considering many novices won't go through 3 or 4 bugs before giving up.

      Crawfish survive pretty well in captivity. Put them in a cooler or other large container with a cover (these guys are escape artists) and add a few gallons of the cheapest bottled water you can find (enough to mostly submerge them). Bottled water because it is not chlorinated. They can easily survive 3 or 4 days if the ambient temperature is fairly cool and the bugs haven't been sitting in the fish market for a week. Tip: when shopping, you can tell how fresh the crawfish are by how anxious they are to escape. If you see crawfish running around on the floor, that's a good sign. If they are just laying back in a pile and barely wiggling their claws they are not fresh and almost dead.

      Since you're in MD you already know the recipe. Just pretend they are crabs. If you want a Louisiana flavor, use some Zataraine's crab boil, or look up some spice mixes online.