This annual tradition takes place at this Hoboken mainstay that is known as "New Orleans of the North" with its authentic Cajun dishes.
Every Tuesday, the crawfish are flown in fresh from Louisiana and simmered in spices until tender.
"It's a taste of the South," said Hilary Morris, who is a bartender/manager at Oddfellows. "The season is so short. It's like a novelty every year."
By the pound
Described as a cross between lobster and shrimp, these mid-sized delights are in peak season April through June.
Head chef Carlos Cruz, who has worked at Oddfellows for a dozen years, prepares the special mix of spices that are added to the giant sized pot needed to boil the 100-plus pounds of crawfish. The rest is basically time and patience as the broth has to simmer so the crawfish, red potatoes and corn-on-the-cob absorb the spices, he said.
Cruz said the key is the spices which includes paprika, Cajun spices, white and black pepper, lemon juice, garlic and, of course, the chef's special touch. The result is tender meat with a slightly sweet and spicy flavor.
Cruz described the proper way to eat the crawfish.
"Open it up a little bit and suck on the juices in the head and tail," said Cruz. "The potatoes and the corn make people happy."
Oddfellows serves platters of the tasty crustaceans with a heaping portion of red potatoes and corn-on-the-cob that are also boiled in the tasty blend of spices. Guests can order it by the pound.
Crawfish is also a healthy food as they are high in protein, low in fat, and easily digestible.
General Manager Missy Dimonde says that a one pound serving is an appetizer portion, while a two-to-three pound serving is an entrée.
Dimonde described a technique for opening the crawdaddies. Make a quick twisting motion with the head, do a slip back of the shell, pinch the bottom of the tail, and pull out the meat.
"A lot of people say that the head is the tastiest part," said Morris.
A Hoboken tradition
Oddfellows Rest, which is owned by Jerry Maher, has been serving up authentic New Orleans food for the past 14 years and celebrates Mardi Gras and crawfish festival every year as a tribute to the Bayou. This fall the restaurant will celebrate 15 years in Hoboken.
When Maher created Oddfellows, he wanted to design a restaurant that had the look, feel and taste of a traditional New Orleans bistro.
The restaurant is resplendent with authentic New Orleans memorabilia including Mardi Gras masks and beads, high ceiling fans, tile floors in the dining room, and celebrated Jazz musicians hanging on the walls. This charming eatery also has a sidewalk café and outdoor courtyard in the back that is the next best thing to visiting the Big Easy.
Maher says that customers look forward to the crawfish every year.
Guests can enjoy any one of the signature drinks like the Hurricane, a sweet and satisfying rum punch or the refreshing Mojito.
In addition to the seasonal crawfish platters, guests can indulge in other Louisiana treats like the delicious po' boy sandwiches, spicy jambalaya, etouffees, crispy fried catfish, entrée salads, and much more.
Oddfellows Rest, 80 River St. in Hoboken is open seven days a week for brunch, lunch, and dinner. The Crawfish Festival runs every Tuesday night until June 24 with the exception of May 27. For more information, call (201) 656-9009 or visit: www.oddfellowsrest.com.
What: platters of fresh crawfish, red potatoes, corn-on-the-cob
When: Tuesday nights until June 24
Where: Oddfellows, 80 River St., Hoboken, (656-9009)
And: Tuesday night drink specials include: $1 off Corona, plus regular Happy Hour
Comments on this piece can be sent to: DSchwaeble@hudsonreporter.com.