Authentic Cajun Crawfish Dip for Your Next Crawfish Boil

Picnic table of boiled crawfish

This week was my friend Luke’s annual crawfish boil, and it was amazing as always. I’m as Cajun as you can get, so I jump at any chance I have to eat crawfish here in Austin. Unfortunately, usually the serving sizes are not adequate for my Cajun stomach, nor is the seasoning adequate for my taste buds. Luke’s crawfish always manages to satisfy on both accounts. (The amazing picture above is also by him. Thank you Luke!)

Going to Austin crawfish boils, I’ve learned that I need to be prepared to bring my own crawfish dip. Crawfish dip, as in dip that you dip your crawfish in, is not something that exists here. I’ve seen people use butter, which I guess makes sense, crawfish are similar to lobster. That’s not how we we do it in Acadiana though. In Acadiana, we all make our own special concoction of mayo and other special ingredients, creating something not unlike the “special sauce” you put on a burger. Meeting everyone in the kitchen before the boil to each make your unique bowl of dip is one of my favorite parts of a crawfish boil. In Austin, however, this means me meeting myself in the kitchen, and then making enough to supply the party.

Yes, I bring Bag of Louisiana brand crawfish boil seasoningmy own crawfish dip to bars and other locations serving crawfish. I bring my own koozie too. That’s how I roll.

As my inaugural blog recipe, here’s my ‘classic’ version of the crawfish dip. It’s about as basic as you can get. This particular one is my go-to Austin-party dip because of the extra spice. It compensates for the fact that I usually find the crawfish to be under-seasoned. The spice it calls for is in fact ‘Crawfish Boil’, the same mixture that is commonly added to the pot of crawfish itself, usually Louisiana or Zatarain’s brand (pronounced Zat-UH-ranz or Zat-UH-rehnz). If you need help finding this in your area, try looking in a store that features international foods. In Texas, Fiesta actually has a very nice section of ‘Cajun supplies’. When I lived in Oregon, I found the same thing in Asian and Mexican supermarkets.

Print
Authentic Cajun Crawfish Dip
Prep Time
5 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp crawfish boil seasoning
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Taste as you go to add more seasoning if desired. If you find it getting too salty, you can try supplementing Low Sodium Tony Chachere's.

Afro-Vegan Cover

Afro-Vegan: Bridging Traditions

Vegan cuisine lacks tradition.

There are examples of veganism or extreme vegetarianism going back to as far as ancient Greece and India, but most cases represent isolated individuals, not a lineage. There are few rare examples of near vegan cuisine being culturally sustained–Shojin Ryori and multiple Indian foodways for instance–but those are exceptions in the gastronomic world. Instead, veganism is more often associated with eschewing what came before, a deliberate turning away from a culture that shares different values.

As a result, most vegan cookbooks are instructional. The average reader is statistically probably unfamiliar with vegan cookery and in fact may have never had to prepare their own meals before, coming from a culture where meat-laden dishes can be delivered or picked up from a drive-thru. It is risky for a vegan cookbook to dive deeply rather than pan broadly, to presume even basic kitchen skills. This means we are treated less often to rich and uncompromising works like the beautiful and omnivorous Burma: Rivers of Flavor or Gran Cocina Latina.

Bryant Terry has always resisted these trends in modern veganism, seeking to ground his food in history, even an omnivorous history. Starting with Vegan Soul Kitchen, he has linked his recipes to family stories, century old traditions, and modern cinema and music. In his latest work, Afro-Vegan he goes further than ever. He maintains the habit of suggesting other cultural works like songs to tie into each recipe, and of “remixing” classic recipes with new twists, such as combining Southern skillet cornbread with North African dukkah. Unlike his past books, however, he goes further in emphasizing the linkages between what he cooks, traditional African American foodways, and the cuisines of Africa.

The book organization shows his emphasis on African and New World ingredients. “Okra, Black-eyed Peas, and Watermelon” get lumped together in one chapter, while “Grits, Grains, and Couscous” share another. Every recipe showcases some element of African cuisine but no recipe seems explicitly foreign. Terry reworks every ingredient or technique until it fits our modern expectations. Okra is grilled to make a spicy finger food, African black eyed pea fritters appear in a more traditional form and as softer patties for sliders. A whole chapter is devoted to cocktails, demonstrating that this is not intended to be a manual to recreate some kind of authentic African experience, but rather to incorporate tiny bits of tradition into modern life.

Terry does not talk down to his audience or spend much time explaining what’s needed in a pantry or how to deep fry. Because of this, he doesn’t need to water down his vision. Every dish works in concert, delivering a pitch perfect demonstration of Terry’s style. Sometimes this requires uncompromising instructions. Making Slow-braised Mustard Greens–which I would usually toss into one pot and call it a day–requires one pot and two pans, but the result is the creamiest mustard greens I’ve ever had. Za’atar Roasted Red Potatoes included more steps than I would expect from roasted potatoes–including taking the potatoes out halfway through to re-season, then laying each piece back on the baking sheet “cut side up”–but my boyfriend declared them, “the best anything. Ever.” The specifications may seem particular, but in each case Terry reassures that this is worth it. When describing how to meticulously remove the skin from every black-eyed pea used in Crunchy Bean and Okra Fritters, he suggests inviting guests to help. Even in the preparation, he manages to work in ways to make vegan food more about community building than dividing, furthering the book’s message.

Bryant Terry’s Afro-Vegan is one of the few vegan cookbooks I own that both explores a cuisine deeply while elevating it to new heights. It’s one that I’ll grab when I need inspiration for something new and exciting, as well as the one I’ll dog ear and bring to Louisiana on family visits. Hopefully other chefs will be inspired as well, and we can further the cause of integrating veganism into our communities and family histories.