Edible Houston’s Signature Vietnamese Crawfish Boil

By / Photography By Susan L. Ebert | May 24, 2016


Place a 30-quart pot with a strainer basket on the burner, and fill it about two-thirds full with water. Add 1 cup crawfish boil spice, plus the vinegar, celery, garlic, ginger, basil and jalapeños and squeeze each cut orange, lemon and lime over the pot. Light the burner, crank the heat to high and bring to a boil. When the pot is boiling, add the potatoes, carrots and onions. Reduce the flow of propane as needed to keep your pot at a lively simmer, but below a raging boil. When it starts to bubble again, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Next, add the longbeans, pea pods and mushrooms and return the pot to a lively simmer, then cover and cook for 2–3 minutes. Remove all vegetables from the pot and keep warm.

Finally, add one-third of the crawfish (10 pounds); cook the rest in two separate batches. When the broth just starts to bubble, turn the heat off and cover the pot. After 10 minutes, don oven mitts and check: If the crawfish still float, cover the pot and let them poach for a few more minutes. Once they sink, they’ve absorbed all the spicy broth they can and are ready to eat. Lift out the strainer, let it drain over the pot (retain the broth in the pot for the next batch), then pour the crawfish into a large bowl.

Add one-third of the vegetables to the cooked crawfish and pour over one-third of the sauce (see below). Toss gently to coat, add the fresh lime wedges and eat!

To cook the remaining crawfish, bring the broth back to a boil, add more boil spice and the crawfish, and when it begins to bubble again, repeat the cooking process.

For the sauce:

While the crawfish finish cooking, melt ½ cup (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan, add the garlic and sauté over medium heat until the garlic is fragrant and translucent. Add the rest of the butter and season with the boil spice to taste. Other popular condiments include sriracha sauce or Muôí Tiêu Chanh, made by muddling coarse salt and white pepper together with Thai chilies and lime wedges.

Yields about 3 cups.

About this recipe

Visit ediblehouston.com for Susan's Boiling Spice recipe!


For the boil
  • 1 (30-pound) sack of crawfish
  • 1–3 cups Crawfish Boil Spice (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 cup unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar (I use Bragg’s)
  • 1 bunch celery, washed and cut in half
  • 5–6 stalks of lemongrass, chopped coarse
  • 6 heads garlic, unpeeled but halved
  • 1 large knob ginger, chopped
  • 1 large knob galangal, chopped
  • 1 bunch Thai basil
  • 4–5 citrus leaves (we used Meyer lemon leaves)
  • 6 jalapeño peppers, halved
  • 8 oranges, halved
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 6 limes, halved
  • 2 pounds small new potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 pound fresh carrots, scrubbed
  • 24 boiling onions, washed and trimmed
  • 1 pound longbeans
  • 2 pounds snow or sugar snap pea pods, or a mixture
  • 1 pound Shiitake or oyster mushrooms, cleaned
For the Sauce
  • 1 pound (4 sticks) butter
  • 8–12 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • Crawfish boil spice, to taste
  • 6 limes, cut into wedges
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