Viet Cajun Seafood Boil
Recipe courtesy of Maria Do for Food Network Kitchen

Viet-Cajun Seafood Boil with Lemongrass-Garlic Butter

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 25 min
  • Active: 50 min
  • Yield: 4 to 5 servings
This recipe is inspired by the crawfish boils I grew up with in New Orleans even before the term “Viet-Cajun” was coined. Back in the 1970s, Vietnamese immigrants to the Southern states (Louisiana and Texas in particular) like my family began combining classic flavors and techniques from their homeland with Gulf Coast ingredients, although it wasn’t until decades later that Viet-Cajun came to represent this distinctive seafood-oriented cuisine. Lemongrass, ginger, fish sauce and lots of garlic—this aromatic powerhouse makes a more traditional Cajun seafood boil distinctly Viet-Cajun. I’ve adapted this festive one-pot meal to incorporate some personal favorites while maintaining the hallmarks of a Viet-Cajun boil. Water and fresh orange juice are my family’s go-tos for the boiling liquid, but you can also swap orange juice for pineapple juice (a popular Vietnamese flavoring), or use light beer, which is more common in East Coast boils. Mushrooms and quail eggs are my additions, and although they’re not traditional I see them more often in restaurant-style boils. And finally the sauce: Viet-Cajun boils are commonly tossed in a simple-to-make spiced lemongrass-garlic butter; since the ones I grew up with in Louisiana weren’t soaked in sauce, I prefer to spoon a little bit of the butter over the top but serve most on the side for guests to toss or dip as much or as little as they like.


Seafood Boil:

Lemongrass-Garlic Butter:


  1. For the seafood boil: Heat the oil in a 10-quart or larger stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the lemongrass, then the ginger, garlic and onion cut-sides down. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the garlic is light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add 4 quarts (16 cups) water, increase the heat to high, cover and bring to a boil, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium to maintain a simmer. Squeeze the juice from the orange halves into the pot, then add the orange halves with the potatoes, sausage, seafood seasoning, fish sauce and corn. Simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes, sausage and corn to a large serving platter with tongs or a slotted spoon; keep the liquid in the pot.
  3. Add the clams, crab legs and mushrooms to the pot, then cover and simmer until the clams start to open, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, then add the shrimp, submerging them in the liquid. Cover and allow the shrimp to cook in the residual heat until pink, about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer the seafood and mushrooms with a slotted spoon or tongs to the platter with the vegetables and sausage.
  5. For the lemongrass-garlic butter: Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the lemongrass and simmer to soften, 4 to 5 minutes; scrape off any foam from the top of the butter. Add the seafood seasoning, ground ginger and garlic and cook until the garlic is lightly browned around the edges, about 2 minutes. Whisk vigorously or process with an immersion blender to break down the lemongrass and garlic even more. Turn off the heat, add the fish sauce and lime juice and stir to incorporate.
  6. Scatter the eggs, if using, over top of the seafood, sausage and vegetables on the serving platter. To serve, squeeze the lemons over the seafood and toss with some of the lemongrass-garlic butter. Serve the remaining lemongrass-garlic butter on the side for spooning or dipping.