- 8 pounds live crayfish
- 1 gallon water
- 4 cups stout, such as Guinness
- 2/3 cup coarse sea salt, plus more for seasoning
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 dried Thai chile, seeded
- 1 bunch fresh dill sprigs
- 10 crowns of dill, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons creme fraiche
- 2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Rinse crayfish under cold water. Discard any that don't move. Bring water, stout, salt, sugar, and chile to a boil in a large pot. Add dill sprigs and crowns and crayfish. Cover pot, and return to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Fill the sink halfway with cold water. Place pot in sink, and uncover. Dampen a large piece of crumpled parchment with cold water, and place it on surface of broth. After 20 minutes, replace water in sink with cold water and ice. Repeat every 30 minutes until crayfish and broth cool, about 2 hours.
- Mix mayonnaise, creme fraiche, lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Season with salt.
- Drain crayfish, arrange on a large platter, and garnish with crowns of dill. Serve with lemon wedges and mayonnaise mixture. To eat crayfish, pinch the head and twist the tail to separate. Carefully remove meat from tail by pinching from the bottom and breaking through the rings on the shell. (The head carries flavorful juices. Either suck the head, or discard.)
If crayfish are unavailable, substitute shrimp in the shell for an equally delicious dish. When cooling the crayfish in their liquid, crumple and dampen parchment, and place it on the top of the broth to keep the shellfish submerged.