I stopped in to a large international grocery here in St.Louis--Jay's for other St.L locals. Among all the other many interesting things were a box of live crayfish. It was too late too plan anything that Sunday afternoon, but the woman behind the counter said that they get them most every weekend.
So i went back home and consulted some cookbooks. The French books all recommended cleaning them--removing the gut--whilst still alive and thrashing, but did not say exactly how to do this. Paul Prudhomme recommended using "tail meat" in all of his books--which i seriously doubt he uses in his kitchen. Good old Rombaur ("Joy") gave detailed instructions (essentially, grab the tail, twist and pull), but indicated that cleaning was not necessary if the critters were kept "in fresh running water" for a few days to clean them.
I guess my question is: Do i really need to clean them before cooking? Can you lightly boil them then clean like a shrimp? I've done live shrimp like that. As a hypocritical carnivore, i don't think i could pull the guts out of 20 or so angry crayfish. One or two, maybe, but after a while i'd start feeling like the crustacean slaughterhouse. Dumping them, en masse, into boiling water i could handle. So what do the hounds recommend? Thanks in advance.