Ingredients: Sea salt, Celery Seed, Chiles, Nutmeg, Clove, Allspice, Mustard, Black Pepper, Thyme, Bay Leaves
This seasoning is most commonly used for seasoning crab, shrimp and seafood. We first came across this recipe while we were visiting Louisiana when we went to our first crawfish festival in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This was also the first time we heard the phrase “pinch the tails and suck the heads”.
Bay seasonings are used in numerous harbor towns across the US from the Chesapeake Bay area in Virginia, down around the Florida pan handle and even all the way out to Alaska but they seem to be most popular in the Gulf Coast region. Boiled seafood in southern Louisiana tends to be spicier than that found in other parts of the country.
Shrimp, crab, and crawfish boils can be found across southern Louisiana and the Southern Gulf Coast region. But it's the crawfish boil that is most closely associated with the region. USA Today has named the Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival as one of the top 10 food events in the country and this is a spectacular showcase for Creole culture and music. In New Orleans, Tulane University holds their annual "Crawfest" in April while the University of New Orleans holds a yearly crawfish boil for all their students at the end of the spring semester. Smaller events can be found in backyards, at churches and in parks throughout April, May, and June. Locals traditionally eat crawfish, as well as crabs, without silly tools such as shell crackers or picks.
A great excuse for a party (as if they need a reason), a real Louisiana seafood boil requires a 50-gallon pot on top of a propane burner but you can also do a stovetop version for a smaller friends and family feast as the flavors are the same. A "Boil Master" is in charge of making sure the ingredients all make it into the pot in the correct sequence and controls the timing of the steps. There is no right or wrong when it comes to seasoning a crawfish boil and many experienced boilers simply go by feel although there are some base guidelines to follow. Once cooked the contents of the pot are removed, drained, and then dumped onto a newspaper covered table. Crackers and hot sauce are optional. Cold beer is required.
Much of the flavor for a seafood boil comes from an aromatic blend of seasonings known locally as crab boil.
We like to use about 1/2 cup (or 8 oz) of Gulf Coast Bay Seasoning per gallon of water and don't be afraid to sprinkle a bit more on top after you've dumped everything out on the table! A ½ cup of Gulf Coast Bay Seasoning is enough to season 2.5 lb. shrimp or 6 blue crabs.
The most common ingredients in a seafood boil are potatoes, onion, garlic, corn and smoked sausage. The "seafood" is usually crab, shrimp or crawfish.
Bring water and Gulf Coast Bay Seasoning and to boil in your pot on high heat. Add garlic, onions and potatoes. Cook 8 minutes. Add smoked sausage. Cook 5 more minutes. Add corn. Cook 7 minutes. Add crab and cook about 10 minutes or if you're using crawfish or shrimp cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
Like any good food tradition or seasoning the cooking of crawfish ignites a controversy. Here the debate revolves around whether or not the crawfish should first be purged by covering them with clear water and a generous amount of salt for a few minutes. Those in favor of this argue that this rids the crawfish’s body of impurities. The “non-purgers” claim this doesn’t work and is a waste of time.
While our Bay Seafood Seasoning is primarily used to season crab, shrimp and crawfish it's also good when used as a topping on baked potatoes, boiled peanuts, chicken, chipped beef, corn on the cob, dips, eggs, French fries, potato salad, potato chips, popcorn, salads, stir-fries and tater tots. It is also sometimes used as a secret ingredient in Bloody Marys.
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