So, What is That Black Vein in Louisiana Crawfish? Do You Eat it?
There is a debate among crawfish fans about what that black vein on the back of a crawfish is, and whether or not one should eat it. I can tell you, having eaten thousands of them, they are not going to hurt you. But whether you need to "devein" crawfish or not, is really personal preference.
It also is going to depend on what source you check. A quick search will give you varying degrees of yes or no's. AllRecipes.com website recommends that you do devein crawfish, and they say it isn't as daunting a task as you might think.
You do want to devein crawfish, though. Removing the thin black lines from the tails isn't as tedious as it sounds. You won't have to do this with every crawfish, as it usually slides off with the shell.
But they also have an entire section on "How to Peel Crawfish." And I say, if you're peeling them, you're wasting valuable time and effort. No, I'm not saying eat shells, claws and all, but you really don't need to "peel" them.... especially when they're cooked right. But more about that in a sec.
What IS the "Vein?"
Goodfoodtoeat.com describes the 'vein' in crawfish, (also in shrimp, prawns, etc)
Although it’s called deveining, it is actually not a vein at all. It is the shrimp’s, (or crawfish’s) digestive tract, and when it is dark in color it means it is filled with grit.
Will the Vein Hurt You if You Eat it?
The black 'vein' in the crawfish will not hurt you. Sometimes, if the crawfish aren't purged completely, it might affect the taste somewhat. A check of cajuncrawfish.com:
Crawfish do have a dark vein that you should remove before eating.*It will not hurt you to eat it*. In young crawfish, that vein will turn semi clear once the crawfish is all purged. But as they get older, the vein stays a dark color, so it makes it look like it is dirty, which usually is not the case.
It really boils down to personal preference. (See what I did there?) If you buy crawfish from an actual retailer, chances are they have been purged, and are going to be great when cooked correctly. The vein isn't going to matter. Don't let it slow you down!
How to Eat Crawfish
Eating crawfish can easily be done in 2 steps. 1- Separate the tail section from the body. And 2- grab the meat with your teeth and pull it out while you're pinching the bottom of the tail to push it out at the same time. But really, however you do it, just grab a cold beverage, a lot of paper towels, put on some good zydeco and Laissez les bons temps rouler!