These small, tasty crustaceans, sometimes called mudbugs, look like miniature lobsters. They are often boiled with a hefty pour of Cajun spices. If your Southern host dumps a pile of them in front of you, don’t fret. Shelling them is easier than you’d think.
STEP 1 With one hand, pinch the crawfish by its head. With the other, pinch the spot where the tail meets the body.
STEP 2 Twist the tail and pull it away from the body. Optional step for the non-squeamish: suck the juices from the head, and then discard it.
STEP 3 Twist off the tail flippers. Devein the crawfish (its dark, stringy digestive tract should come off easily).
STEP 4 Gently use your thumbs and forefingers to work off the first two or three rings of the wider part of the shell. Pull out the exposed tail meat. Dip the meat into butter (if desired), and enjoy.
CRAWFISH ALERT! Crawfish live in fresh water. You’re certain to find them in the southern United States, especially Louisiana. The juices from the head could very well be a pure shot of Cajun spices if your host is a fan of spicy foods. Skip this step if you can’t handle the heat.
Excerpted from “How to Eat a Lobster,” by Ashley Blom and illustrated by Lucy Engelman. Reprinted with permission from Quirk Books.