Southwest Minnesota State University

Prepping Fried Soft-shelled Crawfish

Mardi Gras Gala

October 9, 2009

Steph is touching a soft-shelled crawfish for the first time! YUCK!Friday morning is here and I only have about 8 hours to put the whole Gala together.  I never can watch "Dinner Impossible".  I live it!!

Michael Cheng and I are holding our normal early planning meeting and I hear him call out "Good Morning, Wanda!"  I had no idea whom Wanda was, so I asked, and he said she was Amanda Paine's mother. And that she had volunteered to help with the cooking; and that she was going to stay most of the day. WOW, another set of hands, we need that!


Wanda Paine, ...... and Amanda PaineThe first thing we had to do was assemble the dry batter.  Wanda wants to see the recipe..... HEY, there ain't no recipe, we are going to make what we want!!  OMG, I thought she was going to faint!

The first problem we had was that there was no corn FLOUR, and none available at any of the commercial food suppliers.  WHO KNEW, that in the middle of a 500 square mile corn field that you couldn't get corn flour!!  OK, so we had to punt and use corn meal, NO real Problem!!! 

We mixed about an equal portion of all purpose flour with the corn meal then added handfuls of cayenne, garlic, white pepper and dry Zatarain's Crab Boil Seasonings.  We then went on to season the milk batter.

We tried to fry the crawfish in butter, but realized that if we attempted to do this, we would have burnt the butter within the first 20 or so.  Again, we punted and used a high temp vegetable frying oil.  The soft-shelled crawfish came out PERFECT!!!!  Mr. Jim Tate wolfs down a soft-shelled crawfish!We needed a guinea pig, and asked Mr. Jim Tate, (Assc. Director of Public Relations and the photographer for many of the pics that you see on this and other pages.) to try a crawfish, he loved it, in fact he ate the other one the plate!  The soft-shells came out crispy, but not dry, and the full crawfish flavor came through with every bite!!!


OK, now team, make up about 50 lbs of dry batter!! Wanda almost fainted again. Steph, Amanda, Wanda and myselfWhere is the recipe??  We had just put it together as we went along, and not measuring.   I told them to make it up to taste like our test batch!! NO Problem!!!   AND Ya know what they did!!!

Steph, Amanda and Wanda worked ALL DAY! From 9am till at least 10pm!! Never stopping!  Not only working on soft-shelled crawfish, but on the Remoulade Sauce, the Turkey Gumbo and many other projects that we needed to do.  Ms. Wanda Paine follows my recipe to make a Remoulade Sauce.

I asked Wanda if she would make up 4 batches of our Remoulade Sauce for the Blackened Filet Mignons.  She asked if I had a recipe, I DID!! And she was soooooo happy!  I didn't know at the time but Wanda works for Michael Foods of Gaylord, MN.  She is a Food Technician in Research and Development.  NOW, I know why she was in shock without a recipe!!

Amanda, myself and Wanda PayneAt about 5pm, they started to skillet fry each and every crawfish!!  THEY DID well over 600 of them!

 When they finished pan frying they left the Culinology kitchen, then helped to plate up for the main Gala meal at the R/A Facility.   Even after when everyone was beat, I found them cleaning up!!! Ya'll come to New Orleans, I know where you can work anytime!!

Amanda interviewed me for an article in the SMSU student newspaper "The Spur", her article was "Behind the Scenes with  a Chef".  She sent me an autographed copy! WAY COOL!



Thanks to Jim Tate and Michael Cheng of SMSU for taking and supplying many of the above pics!!

Check out many other pics on Michael Cheng's Facebook Photo Album

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Chef Emile L. Stieffel, Aurora Catering, Inc. email address:
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