It’s that time of the year when crawfish, crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs — whatever you like to call them — are ready to be boiled and eaten.
Beau Johnson, Oak Forest resident and owner of local crawfish catering company Bayou City Bugs, has grown up attending boils. From watching his parents cook crawfish to now doing it himself, he said taking over that duty is a rite of passage.
“(It) was always interesting to me and my friends,” Johnson said. “As we got big enough to be trusted around boiling water and getting to pour the spice in and help cut lemons, we thought we were practically adults. Now that we are adults, it’s come full circle and we get to share our recipes and show them how we like to cook crawfish.”
Johnson’s business has been influenced by having crawfish boils be such a large part of his life. So while the main goal for the business is to be a helpful service while providing good crawfish, the crawfish are just one part of the event. The social gathering of a boil becomes forefront as family and friends come together to spend time with one another as they enjoy a favorite cuisine.
“Everyone is happy when they are around friends and family,” Johnson said. “If you can give them good crawfish, that is just icing on the cake.”
The social aspect of eating crawfish bleeds into restaurants as well as most crawfish restaurants in Houston are family-style seating, which means you will probably sit with strangers.
“I think that the process of eating crawfish helps with the social aspect,” Johnson said. “It’s messy and you almost can’t help but end up with some all over you. You have to have a sense of humor when eating them. It’s a lot easier to laugh with a total stranger and introduce yourself covered in crawfish at the same table.”
Bayou City Bugs caters about 5,000 pounds of crawfish, but Johnson is familiar with other suppliers in Houston that clear 100,000 pounds in a year.
For some eating crawfish never gets old. With recipes featuring different seasonings and styles of cooking, the mudbugs can change from one boil to another.
For locals to get a taste of various crawfish recipes, Great Heights Brewing Company and local craft beer advocate Ralph Palmer are co-hosting the 2nd Annual One Sack Showdown.
“Instead of casually reporting on the local beer scene I wanted to find a way to contribute to the craft beer community,” Palmer said. “I’m a huge crawfish lover and thought it would be fun to host a cookoff-style crawfish event with my neighborhood brewery, Great Heights.”
Last year they had eight teams participate and served about 550 pounds of crawfish. This year there are 17 participating teams with the projected amount of crawfish to double from the previous year.
The cookoff teams will bring their own recipes and be judged on ease of peeling, seasoning and flavor, creativity (sides, types of boil, etc.), and presentation.
“The teams are encouraged to be creative as possible,” Palmer said. “Last year we had Viet Cajun, Mexi-Cajun, Thai and standard Louisiana.”
So whether you’re heading to your neighbors’ home or a community event for crawfish, you know you can count on good company and good crawfish.