America loves its seafood, and it has a long tradition of incorporating fish and shellfish in various dishes. From a Houston crawfish boil and a Lowcountry stew to a Chesapeake Bay crab feast or a New England clam boil, there are dozens of ways to prepare shellfish. No matter the region, here are things to remember when enjoying a seafood boil with friends and family.
Treat it as a casual night out
Do not choose a seafood boil for showing off your latest outfit or accessories. To put it plainly, you’ll make a mess, so it’s good to wear an outfit you don’t mind staining. Don’t worry—the restaurant will provide bibs, and you can request gloves from most places.
Also, though you can enjoy your shellfish alone, it’s nice to share it with a few more people. If you have a group of family or friends, you can enjoy more varieties of seafood. A boil is like a barbecue—you might be there for fantastic ribs, but the point is spending time with others.
Use the proper tools
Don’t ask for a plate or utensils—this is something you eat with your hands. Aside from being unusual, you’ll probably ruin forks or knives if you use them on shells. If you don’t feel like it, though, that’s fine. Crab places or crawfish bars will have crackers, slicers, hammers, and other utensils built for opening shellfish.
How to handle king crabs
King crabs have soft shells, so using the cracker tool will not work. For this type of shellfish, it’s best to use the slicer tool. To get to the meat, shove the slicer down the inside. Pull the slicer outwards to cut the leg open, and note that you don’t poke your hand when you do.
How to eat blue crabs
People who don’t live in the mid-Atlantic or Gulf might not know how to deal with blue crabs. It’s simple—first, you break off the legs, which exposes a chunk of meat. To get to the larger part of the crab meat, you must turn the crab upside down and rip off the apron, which is the bottom flap on the underside.
Then, pop off the top shell and remove the gills you see around the edge. Female crabs might have eggs—these are buttery and rich, and they taste a lot like uni. Finally, crack the crab in half and dig into the channels holding the meat.
How to open snow crab shells
The best way to eat snow crab is to get into it with your hands. Break off a section of a leg and hold onto each end. Start with the hard, red top and push your thumbs down at the center until the shell cracks. Then turn it over and do the same thing on the softer, white underside. When you have cracked the shell on both sides, you can slip the meat out using your fingers.
How to get into crawfish
The first thing to do is to remove the crawfish head. Twist it off while pointing it away from you—this prevents juices from squirting on you. Make the most of the flavorful juices in the crawfish head—don’t throw it away without slurping every drop!
Next, you can get to the meaty tail. Remove the top portion of the shell, the one with two legs. Then, remove the bottom portion. Pinch the tail along the top—this breaks the meat’s connection to the shell—and slowly wiggle the meat out.
No matter where you are in America, you’re bound to have a seafood boil that locals are proud to serve to guests. Different regions use various spice blends and sides like red potatoes, sausages, corn on the cob, and more. Keep the tips in this article in mind for your next outing featuring seafood!
One of the best places to get crawfish in Houston is Crawfish Cafe. Various Houston Guides have featured our Viet-Cajun dishes, and we have also appeared in Houstonia, the Houston Chronicle, and Houston Press. Browse our menu today or order online for a shellfish feast at home!
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