Pinching the tail, you pull out the spicy morsel from it’s shell and eye the tumbled feast on the table before you…what next? A hunk of andouille? A buttery, red potato smeared with creamy garlic? Eat more crawfish while you think about it. As the sun dips towards the horizon causing purple-pink explosion in the the sky, your best (or newest) friend hands you an icy bottle of beer, bobbing his head to the Hot 8 playing from a car radio tuned to WWOZ. The rich aroma of well-seasoned boiled shellfish mingles in the humid air with the perfume of blooming flowers, it’s the telltale scent of spring.
In other words, crawfish will never taste better than the way it tastes at a boil…but there are some damn good dishes around town that do our favorite mudbug justice in preparations that stray from the omnipresent etouffee.
Chiba, the new late night, Japanese bar/restaurant on Oak Street, is a chic spot for a creative cocktails and fresh, delicious sushi in an atmosphere reserved strictly for adults. Under the direction of East Coast natives Keith Dusko and Tiffany King, Chiba offers a simple, sleek and modern backdrop for dishes like Pan-Roasted Mussels with green onions and ginger or locally-flavored Satsuma Strawberry roll with scallops and yellowtail. In one dish, the chefs at Chiba have taken our beloved crustacean and created crispy, popcorn-puffs a.k.a. Crawfish Tempura tossed with peppery arugula in a sweet citrus mayo and drizzled with a spicy wasabi aioli.
More traditional, but still in a class all it’s own, Joey K’s Restaurant on the corner of 7th and Magazine uses crawfish tails to accent a tower of creamy, crispy power, the almighty Eggplant Napoleon. This neighborhood gem with home style cooking offers up as an appetizer this dish consisting of a thick stack of fried eggplant rounds smothered in a crawfish cream sauce and sprinkled with boiled crawfish and even a few fried shrimp. You can wash it down with a chilled glass goblet of your favorite local brew and top off the meal with some house-made cobbler a la mode.
If you keep missing boils because of work or what not and you still want that spicy taste of springtime on your tongue, you can always buy some pre-boiled beauties from shops like Broadview Seafood on North Broad, Kjean’s on the corner of North Carrollton and Bienville in Mid City, or Big Fisherman Seafood on Magazine and Toledano Street Uptown. You can pick up a few sacks of crawfish along with some fixins’ and head on out to New Orleans City Park for a little picnic of your own and in the future remember not to pass up anymore invitations.
*Article originally published in the April 2012 issue of Where Y’at Magazine
**Chiba and Kjean’s are closed