Crack and Peel: An Easy Way to Eat Crawfish

Ever been to a crawfish boil? It's a full-contact eating affair, so bring your appetite and your bib. On our New Orleans seafood tour, Chichi Wang from Serious Eats showed me a super-easy way to crack, peel, and suck those crawfish so you're sure to get every last succulent bite.

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Chichi confidently cracks the head off a crawfish.

Chichi saw me struggling to peel each bit of shell from my crawfish (I was on my first; she was on her fifth), and explained this easy five-step technique:

1. Crack off the head - Pick up the crawfish and crack or twist the head right off. This will leave you with a few inches of crawfish body and tail. And save that head for later!

2. Peel off the first three segments of shell - These first three segments of the body are the thickest and toughest, so they're easy to peel off with a few tugs. (See top image)

3. Snap the tail - Press the flipper-part of that little tail upwards, against its natural curl. You should hear a little snap as the cartilage (or whatever it is in there) breaks.

4. Suck out the meat - Amazingly, with those few steps, the all the meat in the body of the crawfish has loosened from the shell. Suck on the body and the meat comes right out.

5. Suck the head - Yeah, that sounds pretty gross (for several reasons), but the head has some delicious crawfish-y juices that you seriously don't want to miss.

If you're at a crawfish boil, you'll have ample practice with these steps! A few tries and you'll be cracking, peeling, and sucking crawfish like a pro.

Do you love crawfish? What's your best crawfish memory?

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Related: How to Cook and Clean a Dungeness Crab

(Information for this post was gathered during a press trip to New Orleans sponsored by the Louisiana Seafood Board. All views and opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author.)

(Images: Emma Christensen)