I had a SERIOUS craving to make this a couple weekends ago. We took advantage of the last of the heat waves in San Diego and sat outside in the yard eating seafood. YES, it has still been super hot here the last few weeks (on and off for a few days at a time). San Diego's REAL summer is always about August through early-November.
I know this isn't a healthy post, but it was so delicious I had to share. Posting here will also help me remember what I did, when I want to make it again in the future :P
I purchased all my seafood from 99 Ranch Market just because Asian grocery stores are always the cheapest places to buy seafood. There was a sale on whole, unpeeled, raw shrimp with their heads so it was perfect! 4lbs for only $10!!! They were frozen though, but whatever it was a good price. 99 Ranch was also the only place in San Diego that I was able to find crawfish. I was disappointed that they were already cooked, but at least that's better than no crawfish. I really LOVE crawfish! Then, of course, crab legs!!! These crab legs were partially cooked and frozen - unless you buy whole, live crab, this is how you will usually find crab legs. Before starting my cooking, I made sure all of these were thawed completely so they cook evenly. Also, I used kitchen shears to snip tiny little cracks in the crab legs, so the boiling liquid can seep in and flavor the crab meat.
Anyways, here's what I did to make my cajun seafood boil / my own version of Boiling Crab:
Cajun Seafood Boil
- Cajun Crab Boil Seasoning (recipe below)
- Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning (recipe below)
- Whole Garlic Bulb, sliced horizontally
- Whole Lemon (or two), sliced into quarters
- Whole Onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
- Bay Leaves, handful
- One Bottle of Beer
- Corn On The Cob, sliced into chunks 2 or 3 inches
- Small Red Potatoes (I didn't use any, but would taste AMAZING)
- Andouille Sausage, sliced into chunks 2 or 3 inches
- Whole, Unpeeled, Raw Shrimp with Heads (using unpeeled shrimp means juicier more flavorfull shrimp!)
- Crab Legs
- Garlic, minced
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Lemon Zest
- Cajun-style Hot Sauce
Part 1: Cajun Crab Boil Seasoning
Mix 4 tbsp yellow mustard seeds, 3 tbsp coriander seeds, 2 tbsp whole allspice, 2 tbsp dill seeds, 1 tsp whole cloves, and 1 tbsp crushed red pepper. I added extra crushed red pepper because I LOVE spice. Make a pouch out of cheese-cloth, pour your boil seasoning into the pouch, and tie closed - this allows the spices to infuse the water without having the spices floating all in your water and getting random little chunks in your food... kind of like a giant tea bag! (http://www.cdkitchen.com/recipes/recs/47/Cajun_Crab_Boil20393.shtml)
Part 2: Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning
If you're going to make ANY cajun/creole food, you might as well get some help from the master, right? Emeril Lagasse!
Emeril's recipe: mix 2 1/2 tbsp paprika, 2 tbsp salt, 2 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp black pepper, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp dried thyme. For my recipe, I actually halved the salt so I can control it more myself. I think next time I make this I will actually leave out the salt completely, so I can add a lot more yummy flavor whenever I want without adding too much salt. (http://www.emerils.com/recipe/14/)
Part 3: Let's get boiling!
1. Fill a large stockpot with water. Throw in your pouch of cajun crab boil seasoning, the whole garlic bulb, the whole lemon, the whole onion, a handful of bay leaves, and a bottle of beer. I took this opportunity to clean out my fridge a little - threw in some partially used lemons and onions that were sitting in the fridge already sliced open and a bottle of Newcastle IPA that has been sitting in the fridge for forever because no one wanted to drink it.... Us San Diegans are super spoiled by all of our AWESOME craft breweries.... I'm not drinking Newcastle IPA... If you can even call it IPA... You can barely taste the hops! ANYWAYS, let me stop my rambling and get on to the next step...
2. Let the water get to a strong boil and let it continue boiling for about 20 minutes so the water can infuse with all those delicious flavors
3. Season your water with salt to taste.
4. While the flavors in the water are building up, let's make our sauce! This is all to taste. Mix a lot of butter and minced garlic in a pan (I used about 2 sticks of butter and a whole bulbs worth of minced garlic, but I had a lot of seafood to cook). Melt the butter and turn down the heat to very low to let the garlic infuse its flavor in to the butter (10-15 minutes). Once the flavor has been infused, zest a couple lemons (I used three) and add the zest to the butter and garlic. Continue to infuse at low heat for another 5 minutes. Juice those lemons and add to the butter mixture then turn off the heat. Add a couple tablespoons of Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning to season. Set aside.
4. Let's get back to the boiling! If your pot has one of those built in strainers that's like a separate pot with holes in it that you fit inside the other pot (sorry if that's hard to explain), I would use that to easily strain out your seafood, corn, potatoes, and sausage. You can leave all of the boiling water seasonings UNDER the strainer, so it doesn't get mixed in with the food you will actually eat.
5. Throw the corn, potatoes, and sausage in to the boiling water. These take the longest to cook, so they should start cooking first. Boil these until cooked, about 10-15 minutes.
6. If your pot is large enough, you can throw in all your seafood! I had about 10lbs of seafood and only a regular stove sized large stockpot, so I did mine in batches. Also, since some of my seafood was already cooked, I thought it would be a good idea to do each of them separately to accommodate for their different cooking times and prevent over-cooking. Chewy, over-cooked seafood is yuck!! Shrimp should only take about 3 minutes - remove immediately when they have all just turned pink! They will stay hot and continue to cook for a minutes after taking them out, so PLEASE do not overcook!! Since my crawfish and crab legs were already partially cooked, I let the water come back to a rolling boil then threw these in until they were heated through (crab took a little longer since they were bigger) - maybe only 1-2 minutes.
7. Pour all your goodies (corn, potatoes, sausage, shrimp, crawfish, and crab legs) in to a large dish or bag and set aside.
8. Return to your garlic, lemon, creole seasoning, butter sauce. Add some of the nicely seasoned boiling liquid to your sauce until the consistency is to your liking. I probably added a cup or two of the boiling liquid to my sauce, but then again... I had a lot of food. Add more Emeril's Essence Creole Seasoning until the flavor is to your liking (I love strong flavors and spiciness, so this is why I realized I should have left the salt out of Emeril's recipe... I kept wanting to add more of his seasoning, but it was starting to get too salty!). You can also add any creole-style hot sauce or just straight cayenne to add extra spice. Salt to taste, if needed. Making the sauce is all to taste - adjust levels of butter, garlic, lemon, creole seasoning, boiling liquid, and spice to your own tastes.
9. When you're finished with the sauce pour it all over your bowl or in to your bag of seafood and toss around to coat well.
10. Dig in, get messy, and eat!
Me and my creation!! We made one more spicy tray and one less spicy tray. My boyfriend and I were monsters and ate about 2/3 of the spicy tray ourselves. The less spicy tray fed four family members with half of the tray still leftover - I have a feeling they were afraid of getting messy so they didn't eat as much. We served ours with Ballast Point beers (YAYY SAN DIEGO BEERS!), grilled garlic bread, and salad. Did I even touch the salad? No... I know... Bad... But my hands were too messy... Lol.
Here's the damage by just me and my boyfriend... Our huge pile of shells... Dangerous...