To purge crawfish, we are simply referring to the actual cleaning of those small lobster-like fishes often referred to as crayfish, crawdaddies or mudbugs, the last coined from its habitat. These type of fishes need to be well purged (cleaned) before cooking and consumption to avoid dirt from their habitat which is mostly in the mud of freshwater and also make them taste delicious. In a good part of Louisiana, it is a typical cuisine for the locales with 70% out of 93 harvested.
Though, this delicacy has been adopted and used almost worldwide as a direct meal course or as an ingredient for other meals. At such, increasing the demand and market value. Though, what good is it to purchase crawfish, if you cannot purge and cook it to taste just right. This article, is wholly construed to show you how, to purge, and cook crawfish deliciously.
There are two generally accepted ways to purge crawfish, one way is purging them with salt and the other is without salt. Take out your live crawfish out of the sack storage or ice storage and put them into a large tub or cooler. Large enough especially if the crawfish is of a good quantity, to allow them to be properly cleaned and prevent them from escaping by crawling out.
What You Need
- Plastic Tub or large bowl
- Fresh Water
- Stirring bat or utensil
- Salt (optional)
Purge with Salt
Before purging with salt, check for dead crawfish floating on the top and remove them immediately.
To purge – Take out your iodized regular table salt, stored either in its sachet or a container with a lid and pour it into a spoon or your hand so you do not pour in excess salt. With mentally gauged measurement, spread salt liberally over the crawfish in the tub or cooler. The mudbugs will cringe the second they come in contact with the salt, this possess no harm. Though, excess salting may kill them before the purging is completed, so watch out for this. Salting helps the crawfish to spew some mud and waste in their digestive tracts helping your cleaning better.
Use a wooden spoon to stir them, so the salt is evenly blended and have similar effects on all crawfishes in the tub.
Stir gently with same wooden spoon or any flat smooth utensil for about 3 minutes, to wash the mud off the crawfish’s shells and gills.
Discard the salt water, by completely draining it out.
Next, pour fresh water over the live crawfish with a hose or over a kitchen sink until they are wholly submerged. At this point the crawfish will spew out grime from their system, and it maybe slimy to the feel, this act minimizes fishy taste and odors as well as the size of their gritty sand vein.
Then salt them again, repeat the process above before thoroughly rinsing them out in fresh water and proceeding to season and boil your crawfish.
Purging Without Salt
Salting is optional, you can choose not to salt your crawfish and yet still clean it properly.
1. Start by emptying your crawfish into a large bowl or tub and fill it up with fresh water and have it sit in there for at least 10 minutes. You shouls stir them with a wooden utensil occasionally to loosen up the dirt and grime lurking in their shells.
2. Pour out the grimy water and refill the tub with new fresh water. Let the live crawfish sit for another 5 to 10 minutes.
3. Check for dead crawfish floating on the top and remove them immediately. Crawfish taste and look best when they are cooked alive.
4. Drain out the water in the tub or container and fill it one more time still having the water submerge the crawfish.
5. Again, stir and check the muddiness of the water, if still dirty keep draining out and stirring until it is reasonably clear.
6. Drain the water and boil your mud bugs!
How to Store Crawfish before Purging
Step 1 – Prep the crawfish before cleaning by storing the crawfish in the sack they arrived in, particularly if you do not intend to cook them right away. This is to prevent it from dying, which it eventually will if stored in water for a long period.
Step 2 – To store them for longer, briefly hose them down with water and place them in a container with ice. Live crawfish can be kept at 36ºF to 46ºF for a few days. Drain them as needed, so you aren’t leaving them submerged in water. Be sure to remove the ice and let the crawfish return to room temperature before purging and cooking.
What to Know
- Purged crawfish have longer storage life and taste a lot better than non-purged crawfish.
- When boiling crawfish, add your favorite foods and ingredients to the water to add flavor and round out your meal.
- It is possible to buy crawfish that have already been purged on a commercial scale. Commercial purging is much more effective than the rinsing methods available at home but home purged crawfish if done properly is safer for consumption since its natural and rid of any additives or chemicals.
- When making crawfish for a large group of people use a smaller amount of seasoning first, then to make the second batch more spicy just add another bag of seasoning to the same mixture and stir it in.
Note: Crawfish need air to stay alive; they shouldn't sit in water for too long.Purge crawfish before boiling; if you do it any earlier, they will die.