Crawfish Etouffée – Ruby’s BBQ. Austin, TX.
Ruby's BBQ. Austin, TX
Some consider the humble crawfish unfit for the dining table and call them names like "river roaches" and other disses. Why they gotta hate?? I've had a love affair with the crawfish or crawdad since I was a kid when I would catch them and keep them around as pets. (Ping and Pong were my first ever crawpets.) But, hell, had I known how tasty they were, those lil' mud bugs would've never made it past my mama's kitchen.
Since then I’ve been enjoying crawfish the way many aficionados do in the form of the Cajun crawfish boil. That's simply keepin' it real. It's just you, the crawfish and not much else in the way. Well, not much other than the annoying protective exoskeleton, of course. If it wasn't for the shell I might actually be satisfied after eating a pail of crawdads. I just get so tired of cracking, popping, sucking and then not getting much meat at the end. I felt like Stymie of The Little Rascals trying to eat that damn artichoke.
There is an alternative to the shell game. And that's where Ruby's BBQ in Austin, Texas, comes to save the day. Scanning the menu, I bypass Ruby's audacious brisket, ribs and sausage selections and go straight for the Cajun section. Although the crawfish etouffée was buried near the bottom of the menu, it was definitely the top pick for me.
I placed my order with the cashier who assured me that there'd be a copious crawfish count when I wondered out loud whether this single entrée would be enough grub. She wasn't lying. Ruby's hefty crawfish etouffée must've weighed in at one and a half pounds. It is a succulent mound of fleshy crawfish tails smothered in a spicy tomato based sauce. I'm drooling on my keyboard just thinking about it. Just imagine eating a huge bowl of mini lobster tails and you get the picture. The meat, perfectly stewed, sort of snaps like a good New York hot dog when bitten into. These bugs were as juicy as the dogs also.
The etouffée was good to the last crawdad. I even sopped up all the tasty, tangy, spicy sauce with some bread. And, yes, I was completely and happily satiated. No fuss, no muss. Best of all no shells. Just plenty of tail.
There is some great food here in Austin. If I find any exotic dishes, I'll recommend to them to you. I haven't seen much beyond menudo - yet.