Introducing Vietnamese-Cajun Crawfish in New Orleans

Blending Cajun and Vietnamese cuisine, this NOLA chef adds her unique twist to crawfish.

Cousins hope to spread this tasty trend around the world

Chef Nhu Nguyen and her cousin, Thien Nguyen helped bring Vietnamese-Cajun food to the New Orleans area. They opened Big EZ Seafood in Gretna, Louisiana together in 2015 — but Viet-style Cajun food wasn’t widely known or accepted. The cousins grew up together in Northern California before moving to the Big Easy. With a menu of Louisiana favorites like fried seafood po-boys, crawfish pies and gumbo. But one item sometimes drew intense skepticism: The Vietnamese- or Viet-Cajun-style crawfish. These crawfish are boiled in the traditional South Louisiana way, then drained and tossed in custom-made sauces.

“My name is Nhu Nguyen. I love to cook. I'm a mom of two. And I like to try new things. We’re pretty much the crawfish capital in the world. In New Orleans, I mean just in the state of Louisiana, I mean during crawfish season — I mean every week it's a question. I mean a crawfish festival. So, you get everyone together, and then appreciate your love for food, for love for crawfish. No sauce left behind,” Nhu Nguyen, Co-owner, Big EZ Seafood tells Brut. “We use extremely — extreme a lot of garlic. When I say we like to buy our garlic fresh. We grind it ourselves. It's just a part of our culture. We cook with extreme a lot of garlic. We can't even call it a dish that we don't as Vietnamese culture that does not use garlic and spice. Everything has to have some of the kick or else you'll be out of business. So, you know a rule of thumb is we don't adjust to anybody's level of spice — you just got to adjust to ours,” Thien Nguyen, Co-owner, Big EZ Seafood tells Brut in a joint interview.

Nhu has been teaching herself how to cook since she was 10 years old — as the only girl in her household. Crawfish are not indigenous to Vietnam, Thien said, though the practice came from Vietnamese Americans and the cousins hope to spread this tasty trend around the world.