Mudbug season has arrived. This Southern crustacean is the central theme of many festivals and crawfish boils annually from March through June. Tasting something like a cross between shrimp and lobster, crawfish (aka mudbugs, crawdads, crayfish) are a spicy addition to a range of recipes, but topping the list is a crawfish boil. Take in spring’s arrival with friends gathered around an oversized, well-seasoned pot filled with crawfish, potatoes, corn, sausage and an array of vegetables. Most believe the spicier the better, so have a cold beverage in hand, perhaps a choice brew.
Overton Square Crawfish Festival
The 19th Annual Overton Square Crawfish Festival will kick off at noon on Saturday, April 12, and the fun will last until 6 p.m. Each year the festival features great crawfish, fresh from the bayous of Louisiana, and Cajun food cooked on site by the Bayou Bar & Grill. This event also has become known for its regional music lineup.
Another highlight of this festival is the culturally diverse Artists’ Market, with original art and craftwork by more than 30 regional artists and craftspeople. There will be a children’s area by Kids’ World Productions with arts and crafts, games and carnival foods.
Admission to the festival is free! Proceeds benefit LivItUp, a Memphis-based nonprofit that works to positively affect the quality of life for all persons with disabilities and their families. The festival is presented by Bayou Bar and Grill and Backlot Productions. Festival sponsors include Budweiser of Memphis, Tito’s Vodka, The Memphis Flyer, EMHC and SR83. overtonsquarecrawfishfestival.com
Crawfish Alley at The Rivergate Festival, Tunica
The Rivergate Festival in Tunica, MS, is on again this year! Free family fun! The Rivergate festival features live music, entertainment and foodie delights for the whole family. Crawfish Alley at The Rivergate Festival is famous for serving some of the best mudbugs in the Mid-South, along with margaritas and cold beer. There will be live music on Friday night, activities for kids on Saturday, a bike race, jumping castles and a giant barbecue competition. This weekend of all-American fun is April 25-26. tunicatravel.com
Rajun Cajun Festival, Downtown
The 2014 City Auto Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival is 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, April 27, at Wagner Place and Riverside Drive, between Union and Beale (on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi).
Admission to the festival is free. Proceeds benefit Porter-Leath. porterleath.org
Boiled crawdads are the authentic way to go, but crawfish show up in many other dishes. Here are a few Memphis-area restaurants offering crawfish specialties that are baked, blended, served over rice and even on a sandwich!
In addition to the Bayou Bar & Grill mentioned above (Overton Square Crawfish Festival), here are a few more restaurants in the Memphis area that are taking crawfish a few steps further with these signature dishes:
DeJaVu: Crawfish Étouffée
Erling Jensen: Saffron Crawfish Bisque
Soul Fish Café: Crawfish Po Boy
Owen Brennan’s: Crawfish Étouffée and Crawfish Pie
Planning a crawfish boil at home? Here are a few places to call for your main dish. They are not all around the corner, but it beats driving to Louisiana to pick up crawfish for your at-home mudbug meal!
Crawfish for Sale
Billy’s Crawfish in Hernando, MS. 901.832.0445
Cajun Crawdad’s Inc. in Horn Lake, MS, and in Cordova. 901.482.2590
Delta Crawfish Market in Paragould, AR. 870.335.2555
Hylle Crawfish Farms in Coldwater, AR. 870.755.BUGS
Backyard Crawfish Boil Recipe
Here is a recipe from Webster Franklin, Tunica Convention & Visitors Bureau CEO and one of the many talented volunteer chefs at Crawfish Alley during The Rivergate Festival (details above). Click here to see Webster and friends preparing crawfish for the festival and enjoying springtime in the Mississippi Delta!
- Crawfish boiling kit
- 5 gallons water
- Cajun seasoning
- 2 4-ounce bottles of Zatarain's Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil
- 1 stick butter
- 10 lbs. live crawfish
- Accompaniments of your choice: potatoes, corn, garlic, green beans, artichokes, onions, mushrooms and sausage
- Extra large cooler
- Fill a 40-quart pot with 5 gallons of water and add a generous amount of your favorite Cajun seasoning, 2 bottles of crab boil and a stick of butter.
- Rinse the crawfish thoroughly.
- Once the seasoned water comes to a boil, add accompaniments such as potatoes, corn, garlic, green beans, artichokes and sausage. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. (Note that you may want to prepare corn and potatoes in seasoned water separately to control cooking time for each.)
- Add the crawfish, cover, and bring to a hard boil, cooking for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pot to sit, covered, for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the crawfish to a large cooler and sprinkle more of the Cajun seasoning on the cooked crawfish mixture.
- Let crawfish steam in the cooler for up to 30 minutes (to desired tenderness) and serve.
Get ’em while they’re hot!