There may be no other crustacean with as many names as the crawfish: crayfish, crawdad, crawdaddy, mudbug, Florida lobster, spiny lobster, rock lobster, and freshwater lobster (to name a few). But no matter what you call it, there's no denying that it's a popular delicacy in the South and beyond.
These freshwater crustaceans are found living in streams, swamps, and rice paddies and have a rich history in the South that dates back to the early 1600s. Crawfish continue to have a huge influence on the region's culture, with the tradition of a family "crawfish boil" passed down in celebration of the season's harvest.
But many, ourselves included, are left with the question of how in the world do you eat a boiled crawfish? Yes, it looks like a tiny lobster, but we're pretty sure they don't make crackers and picks that small.
After some internet-investigating, we were able to break down the crawfish eating process step by step, and make our end-of-summer crawfish boil a whole lot easier. If you've ever wondered, "How do I eat crawfish?" just keep reading.
To get the meat out of the crawfish, you must first grasp it between your fingers just so. Begin by holding the crawfish on both sides of its tail. Your thumb should be on one side and your index finger should be on the other. Keep a firm grip but not so tight that you crush the little guy.
Use a twisting motion to snap the tail away from the head of the crawfish. There is an optional step at this point for "the diehard," as Southern Living states, which is to suck the juice straight from the crawfish head. We'll leave it up to you to decide if that's a necessary part of the process.
Using your thumbs, peel the crawfish shell away from the widest part of the tail. The shell can be discarded or, as Stuart at We Are Not Foodies says, you can use crawfish shells to make stock, much as you would with other shellfish shells.
Hold the tip of the tail and give the meat a tug to release it fully, then you're ready to eat! And ready to celebrate as they do in the South, with a big boil full of corn, potatoes, and crawfish (of course).
Alton Brown of Food Network shares some great tips and recipes for how to make a boil (don't skip looking through the comments on this article for some additional tricks).
With this easy guide, you'll never again have to second-guess exactly how to eat boiled crawfish. Your boil can now go down swimmingly, just like a crawfish headed downstream.