A unique American cuisine is a pinch and a twist away.
Houston, the Bayou City, the most diverse city in the country, has a significant Vietnamese community. So significant is the community that its influence created a new cuisine in the American South and Texas, Viet-Cajun, and its signature dish is Vietnamese crawfish.
The dish is now available across Houston and in metropolitan areas with large Vietnamese communities, including Dallas. In San Antonio, Vietnamese Crawfish is served at Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar, a restaurant Andrew Ho and Sean Wen, both of Houston, started as a series of pop-ups before partnering with Ben Annotti to open a brick-and-mortar space in 2017. It’s proved to be so popular the Pinch team has announced it is opening a second location this summer.
Crawfish and its fiery seasoning also match well with Mexican spirits like tequila. It’s no wonder then that Dulce Vida, a tequila operation based in Austin, Texas, would concoct a tequila-based cocktail with a mudbug twist, which you can make at home while you wait for the Viet-Cajun crawfish boil to cook up. Catch the recipes for both below.
Crawfish Bloody Maria
Courtesy Dulce Vida Spirits
3 ounces bloody mary mix
Crawfish boil seasoning
Cracked black pepper
Pickle, green olive, lemon wedge, crawfish, for garnish (optional)
Add Dulce Vida 80-proof tequila and bloody mary mix into a cocktail shaker. Stir. Add a dashes of crawfish boil seasoning, cayenne pepper, cracked black pepper, and celery salt. Mix well. Pour into glass over ice.
Place pickle, green olive and lemon wedge on toothpick and garnish, perhaps with a crawfish.
OG Garlic Butter Viet-Cajun Crawfish Boil
Courtesy Andrew Ho, Co-Owner of Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar
(Serves 20 – 40 people)
½ pound unsalted butter
⅓ cup seafood boil seasoning, plus 1 (5-pound) bag seafood boil seasoning
2½ cups light brown sugar
2 cups water, plus 5 gallons
4 cups orange juice
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 cups fresh garlic, minced
30 baby red potatoes
30 pieces corn, shucked and halved
30 (3-inch) pieces smoked sausage
1 (30-pound) sack live, cleaned crawfish
Pinch OG Garlic Butter (recipe follows)
1 cup scallions, finely chopped
Pinch OG Garlic Butter
Add butter, seafood boil seasoning (⅓ cup), brown sugar, water, orange juice, cayenne into a medium sized pot. Stir occasionally and bring to simmer. Add garlic and stir and allow to simmer for 1 minute. Cut heat and sauce is ready.
Add 5 gallons of water to a 40-quart pot with burner underneath and add 1 cup of seafood boil seasoning. Bring to a rolling boil.
Drop potatoes into a strainer with a handle into boiling water and set timer for 25 minutes. When there is 8 minutes left on the timer, add corn and sausage to strainer with potatoes. When timer finishes, sides can be set aside and held warm.
When sides are finished, add another ½ bag of seafood boil seasoning to large water pot.
Add 15 pounds of crawfish into a strainer. Drop strainer into water and crank the heat. Allow water to come back up to a soft rolling boil and set timer for 6 minutes. When timer finishes, crawfish can be lifted and poured into a large container (cooler, large bowl, etc.). Incorporate the sides into the container as well.
Use a cup or pitcher to pour garlic butter sauce liberally over crawfish and sides. Toss the crawfish and sides so there is full coverage of garlic butter sauce.
Top with chopped scallions and dust with seafood boil seasoning on top.
Scoop and serve buffet style.
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Photography: Dulce Vida Spirits