The first restaurant in the New Orleans area to introduce Viet-Cajun crawfish was the Big EZ Seafood in Gretna. When the restaurant first opened in 2015 it was not the most favorite item on the menu for local West Bank patrons but now it is so popular you can find Viet-Cajun crawfish throughout the U.S.
How the recipe all began. In 1975, after the Vietnam War, there was an influx of Vietnamese who moved to the United States and New Orleans was one of the many areas these immigrants chose. Vietnamese Americans are the creators of the delicious delicacy because crawfish are not native to Vietnam.
The secret to the Viet-Cajun-style crawfish is a mix of Louisiana style meets Vietnamese sauces. The crawfish are first boiled in the traditional South Louisiana way, drained and then tossed in custom-made Vietnamese sauces.
South Louisiana is the “root of this, of crawfish,” Thien Nguyen, the co-owner of Big EZ Seafood in Gretna, said.
First cousins Thien and Nhu Nguyen, who own Big EZ Seafood, started the craze for Viet-Cajun-style crawfish when they opened their restaurant in Gretna. The two were first introduced to Viet-Crawfish 20 years ago by their Uncle. They would go out and collect crawfish with him, come home and the family members would cook it.
“As kids, we knew about crawfish, but we didn’t know the techniques for cooking crawfish, the seasoning, making sure it pops right out of the shell,” Thien said.
Before starting Big EZ Seafood in Gretna, they would perfect their boil through trial and error.
“We probably use the same seasoning that 90 percent of people do, we just add a little extra love on our end,” he said. “We add a lot more garlic into it. A lot of people add ginger into it. Lemon. Orange. Chinese pepper. Lemon pepper.”
“We’re not taking any shortcuts,” Thien said of their boiling method. “You’re getting the traditional flavor in the inside, you’re just going to get a finger-licking good additional flavor right on top.”
The cousins witnessed their crawfish preparation spread throughout New Orleans restaurants such as Marjie’s Grill, Mopho, Vietnamese Crawfish Palm & Pine, The Boil House, C & A Seafood, TD Seafood and The Mr. CrabHouse. Now they say it is finding its way through restaurants nationally.
Big EZ Seafood in Gretna offers many other items and different sauce options for their crawfish such as Cali and Cajun Citrus. Other items include, raw and boiled crawfish, crabs and shrimp, and a great selection of steamed snow crab, king crab and dungeness crab tossed in special sauces.
Nhu’s famous gumbo is also a local favorite. “It took us a long time to perfect that gumbo,” Nhu said, adding that regulars pair it with grilled cheese sandwiches that they dip into the broth.
To enjoy their famous Viet-Cajun-style crawfish or any other various menu options visit Big EZ Seafood at 1632 Lafayette St. in Gretna, La.
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