How to Throw a Kickass Summer Seafood Boil

As told by Chef David Lefevre of Fishing with Dynamite

July 3, 2018 9:00 am

Some men consider it heresy to cook for a BBQ on something other than a grill.

These are men who have never thrown a seafood boil.

“You get a big picnic table, cover it in newspaper and get your hands dirty,” says Chef David Lefevre of LA seafood joint nonpareil Fishing With Dynamite.

On the eve of his restaurant’s fifth anniversary, we asked him for marching orders on throwing a boil at home, and his answers do not disappoint.

Laissez les bon temps roule.

shell game (4 images)

Make a super flavorful liquid to permeate the victuals
“First, set five gallons of water to simmer. Then add aromatics (carrot, onion, celery, garlic and fennel). Louisianans just use the broth, but in California we keep the veggies; therefore, they need to be big and chunky. Second, you need an acid: dry white wine and lemon juice (8 oz. per gallon of water, so 40 oz. total). Next, spices: salt, pepper and Cajun seasoning. Last, tie an herb bouquet of bay leaf, dill and parsley. Cook time: 10-15 minutes on a simmer. The veggies should still have a bite to ‘em.”

Raise the temp to boil and add each ingredient at the correct time. The total cook time should be about 20 minutes. Say you start at noon…

  • Noon: New potatoes go in first (cooks in 15-20 min)
  • 12:03: Add live dungeness crab (cooks in 12 min)
  • 12:05: Add live lobster (cooks in 10-12 min)
  • 12:07: Add corn (cooks in 8 min)
  • 12:08: Add live clams (cooks in 6-8 min)
  • 12:10: Add sausage
  • 12:13: Add shrimp (cooks in 3 min)
  • 12:16: Strain into a mixing bowl as directed below

Add seasoning again
“I try to have a huge mixing bowl. Then I add whole butter (four tablespoons for 10 people), a little of the leftover juices, a little of the same spice that’s in the liquid and some fresh herbs (fennel tops, dill or parsley).”

Serve with halved lemons to squeeze, hot sauce and something bubbly
“I like Champagne, but you can do a really dry white wine,” says Lefevre. “Beer also goes great with a seafood boil.” Don’t go too hoppy, though; you want something clean and crisp like a pilsner.

Pro tip: Do as much prep ahead of time as possible
“I think the most important part is really setting up your cooking schedule,” notes David. “You can’t sit there and start cutting the sausage right before you’re gonna add it. You’ve gotta have that sausage and corn cut, your lobsters ready, your crabs ready and the shrimp spines removed. Then you’re good to go.”

Feeds 10 saucy souls
Prep time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes

Tool Checklist (go to Surfas for this)

  • One large mixing bowl
  • Good tongs
  • Crab crackers
  • Seafood forks
  • One picnic table
  • Rolls of paper towels
  • Lots of newspaper or a vinyl tablecloth

Ingredient Checklist

  • New potatoes (thin skin absorbs the flavors): 4-6 per person
  • Live dungeness crab: ¼ per person
  • Live lobster: half per person
  • Corn: an ear per person (cut in half)
  • Live clams: 4-6 per person
  • Cooked/cured/smoked sausage: ¼ pound per person, linguica or andouille
  • Shrimps, whole: 4-6 per person (“I cut the back, clean the vein out and leave it in the shell.”)
  • Lemon
  • Louisiana or Crystal’s Hot Sauce
  • Louisiana Cajun Seasoning (Tony Chachere’s, etc.)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Fennel
  • Bay leaf
  • Parsley
  • Dill


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