BBQ Recipe Secrets

The Allure of Grilled Crustaceans

Although they're basically ocean-going bugs, crustaceans make for some tasty seafood -- and grilled crustaceans are even better!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

If the concept of grilled crustaceans sounds weird to you, well, it really shouldn't. Paul Hogan introduced us to "shrimp on the barbie" years ago, and grilled lobster tails have become a staple of popular seafood restaurants.

So have barbecued crabs, for that matter. And folks have even started experimenting with tossing crawfish on the grill as well. (I refuse to call them crayfish. Who does, really?).

A Few Crustacean Truisms

Whether you're dealing with crawfish, crabs, lobsters, or any other oceanic insectoids, one thing you should always do before you throw them on the grill is break or slit open their carapaces, so heat can get inside and steam can escape. In fact, you're best off just removing shrimp shells entirely.

Second, grill them very briefly over a high to medium-high heat, to seal in the juices and keep the meat from becoming rubbery. Cook the meat just long enough for it to turn pink and get a little bit of browning, then off the heat with it.

BTW, the best way to handle shrimp is to thread them onto bamboo or wooden skewers, dust them with the seasoning of your choice, and then toss 'em on the grill. That way, the smaller ones won't fall through and burn to a crisp.

Another Thing to Keep in Mind

Some of you may find the following gross, and I don't blame you. If so, you may want to remove most barbecued crustacean recipes from your recipe book. Here's the deal: with few exceptions, to get the best flavor and freshness, you have to cook the critters while they're still alive.

In fact, most connoisseurs of crawfish won't eat crawfish with uncurled tails, because it means they were already dead when they were boiled. If you weren't aware of it, you also have to boil lobsters while they're still alive.

If you want to eat shellfish of just about any kind, with the exception of things like frozen crab legs and shrimp, you'll just have to accept this reality.

A Sublime Recipe

I had the pleasure of living in New Orleans for a while and getting a taste for crawfish, though I must admit I preferred them in etouffee rather than eating them whole. The tail's all right, but the sucking the head part I can do without.

Anyway: When it comes to grilled mudbugs, I never tried them until I followed a Bobby Flay recipe on the Food Network.

If this crawfish with spicy tarragon butter recipe doesn't make you fall in love with the idea of grilled crustaceans, nothing will!


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