Spring in New Orleans is wonderful. Warm, sunny days without the searing heat and stifling humidity that arrives in the late summer, cool evenings to keep the mosquitoes at bay, and–best of all–crawfish season. Also answering to the name of mudbugs or crawdads, the little shellfish resemble miniature lobsters and are a classic symbol of Louisiana cooking. Although you can find crawfish year round in certain parts of Louisiana, you can only get them fresh mid-February through early June. An as ubiquitous as crawfish are to the local food scene, there are of course hundreds of ways to prepare them, from gumbo to etouffe to the plain old fashioned back yard boil. But don’t be fooled by the simplicity of a crawfish boil; as many locals will tell you, it is really the only way to truly appreciate fresh crawfish and celebrate spring. If you aren’t toting crawfish home, you can always find great boils at any seafood shack in the city, but if you want to get the scoop on how to boil crawfish perfectly, check out this recipe from Frank Davis, a local seafood authority from our own WWL TV:

Frank’s Recipe for Perfectly Boiled Crawfish

For every 43 pound sack of crawfish, use:

1 whole stalk of celery (don’t trim the greens!)

4 heads of garlic

12 lemons, sliced or quarterred

6 large onions

10 bay leaves

3-4 boxes salt

1/2 cup cayenne pepper (yes, 1/2 CUP!)

8 oz. liquid crab boil, or 6 bags dry crab boil

10 ears of corn (cut in thirds)

30 medium red potatoes

3 lbs smoked sausage

The first thing you do is empty your crawfish in a No. 3 washtub and cover them completely with cold water. Makes no difference where your crawfish come from (farm pond or swamp), the only thing you must do is wash them. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PURGE CRAWFISH IN SALTWATER! That’s an old wives tale. It isn’t necessary and it doesn’t work! All it does is kill the little critters! But it is necessary to wash them several times. I recommend you do at least 4 or 5 washings, dumping the old water after each filling of the tub.In short, you should wash until the water comes out clean. Then drain off the last rinse completely and get your boiler ready. In a large pot – 90 to 102 quart is suggested if you plan to boil the entire sack at once – put in enough water to completely cover the crawfish when they are added, and bring it to a rapid boil. Then, toss in all the ingredients except the corn, potatoes & sausage and boil them for about 15 minutes – you want the flavors to mix and create a seasoned stock. Next, drop in the corn on the cob, potatoes and smoked sausage. You want to put them in before you put in the crawfish (because the crawfish cook quickly, and if you don’t pre-cook the lagniappe, the entire boil won’t be finished at the same time). Let the lagniappe cook for 8 to 10 minutes. When all the extras are three-quarters done, add your crawfish and cover the pot. The water will stop boiling immediately.So here’s how you figure cooking time.Just watch the pot, and when the water comes back to a full boil, time your crawfish for just about 2 minutes, shut off the fire, and remove it from the burner. Then drop some crushed ice on top of the crawfish, (which will make them sink), and soak the crawfish for about 25 minutes so that they pick up the seasonings.I do suggest you test the seasoning every 5 minutes or so to keep the crawfish from getting too spicy for your taste.