“I grew up in New Orleans. In school, I was always playing, and when I got home from school; music was always something I wanted to do. With cooking, I sort of cook all the time, I play music all the time; it’s a passion. It’s my whole life.
I play drums with Die Rotzz, an old punk band, and also with Guitar Lightnin’ Lee for about 15-20 years. You just keep your eyes and your ears and your mind open to everything that’s around you in New Orleans, and doing a lot of different things and playing music in all these genres somehow makes sense.
I get inspired by watching and by eating. Going out, seeing different things, listening, just tasting and trying something different, seeing if I can replicate it, steal it, rip it off, whatever you want to call it. It’s basically what cooking is about, what music is about, what a lot of stuff is about.
Cooking and playing music, I couldn’t do one or the other. I try to do as many things as I can all the time, because if I start to just do one then that wears me down and I need to be able to turn to the other to keep going. I’m always trying to get new recipes, always trying to find new music. I just get tired of stuff.
I just put a beef daube on my menu. It’s an old dish that goes way back to Southern France. When I had it as a little kid, my aunt would make it for me. She would get a pot roast and dump Ragu spaghetti sauce on it and cook it in the oven, and I loved it. It was one of my favorite dishes. So I wanted to do that at Green Goddess, but in a more contemporary way.
In New Orleans, it’s more the attitude of the food and the music than what the food and music is; it’s always to have fun and enjoy yourself and get down. That’s what ties everything I do together, it has the same kind of attitude, and it can be punk or blues or daube or crawfish cakes, it really doesn’t matter. In New Orleans, everyone is here to have a good time. But that’s foreign to a lot of people, it really is.
My crawfish cakes have everything that goes in a crawfish boil, except the potatoes. It’s got onions, peppers, celery and garlic, sautéed down in a pan. Pretty much anything I do, I want it to stick to he pan at least three times. Cook it down until it sticks, throw some liquid in there and scrape it off, that’s a lot of flavor. That’s what’s going to make it taste like something that somebody from New Orleans cooked. The more times you stick it to the bottom and pull it off; it can be a bit burned, but as long as it’s not ashes, it will give you that New Orleans flavor.
For the crawfish cakes, I’m going to top them off with fried shallots, some Thai sweet chili sauce, wasabi caviar and a little bit of Honduran crema.
These crawfish actually came out of Lafitte from a guy I played music with in the Sluts, an ‘80s punk band that was pretty popular. He’s a seafood distributor and he gets me the best crabmeat and crawfish.
When you make crawfish cakes, you need a binder. A lot of people would do eggs, but the garlic aioli has the eggs in it plus the oil and the garlic—more flavor—and a creamier texture.
Growing up, we always ate dinner at home. I remember thinking it was so weird when I went to friends’ houses and they either didn’t eat together or went out to eat, I always found that so odd. I have a little brother who’s a banker, and he cooks. He does all the crawfish boils and he does a really good job.
I work 12-hour days at the restaurant so I cook and eat there. I don’t cook much at home. My fridge is a place where stuff likes to spoil. I don’t know if the refrigerator is bad or if I just never open it. It’s one of the two.
I’ve been drinking a lot of wine lately, which is really bizarre. I used to drink so much beer. I really like grenaches, especially the northern Spanish wines. I feel bad leaving wine in the bottle, so I have to drink a whole bottle of wine, and I don’t really have a problem with that. I think that’s okay for where I am right now.”
Paul Artigues’ Crawfish Cakes
- 3 yellow or red onions
- 3-4 bell peppers, any color
- 2 stalks celery
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/4-1/2 bottle of beer
- 2-3 pounds peeled crawfish tails
- 1 cup garlic aioli or mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Zatarain’s Creole Mustard
- 1/4 capful liquid crab boil
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- 4 ounces bread crumbs
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Sauté onion, peppers, celery and garlic in fat in a frying pan until soft and translucent, dousing it every few minutes with a splash of beer to prevent from sticking and burning. Cool.
- In a food processor, mix half the crawfish tails with aioli, mustard, crab boil, salt and pepper until smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together remaining crawfish tails with vegetables, mustard mix and breadcrumbs. Form 2-inch patties and fry in vegetable oil for 3-4 minutes on each side.