So you are going to eat crawfish eh? The best way to learn is by doing and watching others, but I assume if you googled this topic you are looking to do a little home work before endeavoring into a new culinary adventure.
If you have successfully eaten crawfish before this instructable is not for you. If you are a native consumer this is not for you.
Done right, eating crawfish is a social event. You are there to eat, but it's a meal that often will bring people together and talk. A very large pot is usually used to boil several (20-40..ish) pounds of crawfish. Once done they are often just poured onto a table and the crowd gathers and the feast begins. Don't be shy, just dig in. A little warning: it's often spicy and if there are garnishments in the boil they a frequently the spiciest things in the boil.
Things you will need:
Delicious boiled crawfish (preferable cooked by some one else)
Step 1: Selecting Your Crawfish
Generally they are all eatable, but if you run across a crawfish with a straight tail it may have been dead before it hit the boil. The crawfish hit the boil live and there tails curl up when cooked. The up shot is that it may not be the best thing to consume. I personally eat straight tails but I check them for elasticity. What I mean by that is if they are limp and floppy like spaghetti it was probably dead. if it gives elastic resistance like a hot dog and it's straight, it's probably fine. But take the risk at your comfort level.
Step 2: Grab and Twist
The meat of the crawfish is in the tail. So grab the tail and twist.
Some people like to suck the heads. There is plenty of good stuff in there so if you feel up to it just give it a little suck. There's boil in the and some fatty type stuff. I do it on occasion but I usually don't like to overdo the sodium intake so I stick to the tails mostly.
There is also meat in the claws, but no much and it's tricky to get out. If you push the movable part of the claw to the left and to the right, it'll break it out of the joint. Slowly pull out the bottom part. If you are lucky the will be some meat. I usually only do it with the bigger clawed crawfish.
Step 3: Get the Meat Out of the Tail
So this part is done differently by different people. The pros can often just pull it out... this will not be you.
The brute force approach is to remove each 'ring' off the tail until you can pull it out. You may have to do this every time until you get the hang of things.
A better way is to remove a ring or two and then squeeze the base of the tail between your fingers. Put your thumb under the fan part and your finger on the first ring from the fan. Done right you can grab the meat and pull it out.
My favorite way is to squeeze the tip part of the tail (close to where the head was) on the sides. this breaks the rings. Then I squeeze the tail as explained in the previous paragraph. Then I just slide the meat out.
Now the big question: Leave the poop in or take it out. If I'm peeling to cook I'll take it out. if I'm eating on the spot, it's 50/50 for me. if it's obvious that there's a lot of waste in the tail, I'll take it out. I would say leave it in, but every now and then you get a loaded one and it can affect flavor and texture.
To remove the poop there is a shallow 'vein' right under the outer curved part of the tail. it's covered by a piece of meat that is easily removed. Ill grab that meat and that vein and feed it to the dog. Check with your host before feeding their fury friends.
That's about it. Remember it's a social event so be sure to visit while you struggle to feed your self.