“You have to finish that shrimp,” Liz told me.
We were stuffed. Our meal at The Crawfish Pot had been epic. Bags of boiled and seasoned seafood, Cajun-style rice sausage and a big po-boy had come and gone, but there remained one absolutely massive shrimp between us.
“I’m so full,” I told her. “I don’t know if I can.”
Liz said she just felt so bad for it. When a cow is slaughtered, there are burgers and steaks and bones to be boiled for broth and skin to be tanned for leather. If a burger goes uneaten, it’s just a portion of the whole.
But when a shrimp is killed and goes uneaten, its purpose remains unfulfilled.
This was more thought than I generally give to the spiritual lives of the things I’m eating, but she had a point.
I picked it up, tore off its head and ripped off its legs. I ran a knife down its spine, pulled out its intestines and took off the rest of the shell. You know, out of reverence for the majestic beast.
The Crawfish Pot sits just south of I-240 in Oklahoma City in a massive strip mall. Though the staff is almost exclusively Asian, the food is decidedly Cajun.
(For more on the Asian-Cajun food scene, check out this New York Times story.)
When you first walk into The Crawfish Pot, there’s a large chalkboard sign on the wall with a list of market prices for crawfish, shrimp, crab and any other seafood they’re boiling that day.
Depending on what you order, you’ll be offered plastic gloves and a bib. Accept both of them. They are necessary.
I’ve had the crawfish wontons ($5.99) before and, while they’re tasty, I would probably recommend the boudin sausage link ($4.99) or the popcorn crawfish ($9.99) as your appetizer.
Boudin is a spiced pork and rice sausage served in Louisiana. You cut open the casing and scoop out the sausage inside, often as a topping for crackers. It’s a little funky, but I love it. A true Cajun delicacy.
The only reason not to get the popcorn crawfish is because you’re going to get the crawfish po’boy ($10.99), which is a sandwich stuffed with popcorn crawfish.
How stuffed? It’s so much crawfish that it is overflowing out the sides, which is how I want my corpse to be described someday. (I’m taking reservations now for those who want to come to the wake.)
It's a magical sandwich. The bread is soft. The veggies are cold. The crawfish is hot and spicy and crunchy and wonderful. Toss on some sauce if you want, but it's good without. And you can pick up those overflow crawfish tails and pop them in your mouth, like the king/queen/whatever you are.
Generally, I like my crawfish either fried or in a dark brown etouffee. But after being taught how to properly eat boiled crawfish, I’m finding my horizons expanding.
Here’s how to do it:
- Stretch the crawfish tail out over your thumb while gripping the body/head with your other hand.
- Lift the body slightly away from the tail, then twist and pull apart.
- Suck the juice out of the head, if you want. It’s spicy.
- Crack off the top three rings of the tail then pinch and suck (or pull) the meat out.
The boiled seafood at The Crawfish Pot comes by the pound in your choice of two sauces: The Maria (cajun spices) or The Don (garlic butter sauce). Whichever you choose, ask for medium heat or lower, because it gets real hot real fast.
Any boiled seafood comes to the table in a heavy duty plastic bag, so if you’re getting take-out, you can easily pretend your new goldfish has had a terrible accident.
The shrimp are monstrous. Gargantuan. Kong-like. Leaving one in the bag isn’t something you can do by mistake. They are super-super-super big.
But there’s also a problem: The shrimp are not deveined. And while a little intestine in a small shrimp isn’t a big deal, a larger intestine in a giant shrimp can be kind of gross. I understand how much added work it would be, but I wish getting the shrimp deveined was an option.
You can add corn, potatoes or sausage to the bag, but I don’t think it’s worth it. The corn gets kind of soggy. The potatoes don’t really absorb much of the seasoning. It’s fine, but we’ve got more important things to eat.