Saturday, March 14, 2015

Crayfish: Steamed and In Butter

Crayfish are also known as crawfish, crawdads, mudbugs or freshwater lobsters. 
Crayfish are brown before being boiled - then they turn red.
My first experience with crayfish was when we visited Louisiana as a family. We were driving through Bayou Country when we spotted a metal shack off the side of the road with a "Crawdads" sign out front. I ventured in to find two men, one of whom looked just like Bubba from the Forrest Gump movie. The Bubba look-alike, who was buying crawdads, showed me how to eat them. You chew on the head, then suck out the juice, then pull of the tail, peel it, and eat the tail meat. I purchased five pounds of crawdads and we started to eat them in the car. The juice was really good. Then I started to notice that the juice I was sucking out was yellowish/green. It started to gross me out as I figured that the yellowish/green substance was probably crawdad waste and I couldn't eat it any more. After that we focused just on the tails. 

Recently we were in a Chinese market and noticed a frozen bag of wild caught "Cajun Cooked Crawfish." The directions directed us to let them thaw 10 to 12 hours, steam them for 2 to 3 minutes and then eat them. 

Steaming crayfish in a pot (the lid was put on the pot to retain the steam).
I twisted the upper body and the tail and then pulled the tail off. The tail is covered with a yellowish substance, the same stuff that grossed me out years earlier. The yellowish substance is known as crawfish "fat" but it is actually only about 30% fat  and comes from an organ that functions like the liver. It serves the same function as the substance in a lobster known as tomalley. It is full of flavor and very edible. I found it easiest to cut the top portion of the shell on the tail and then pull out the tail meat. However, I watched several youtube videos on eating crayfish tails and learned that there are easier ways to do it. 
Crayfish tails on the plate and getting ready to get another tail. Note the yellow on my fingers and on the tail. It is crawfish "fat" and is edible. 
The tail is removed from the rest of the body.
I used kitchen shears to help remove the tail. I learned from some youtube videos that there are easier ways to do it.
The tail removed from the shell.
I collected a big group of tails and then immersed them in melted butter and ate them. Crayfish are a little softer than lobster meat and a little more sweet. They are quite tasty, but a lot of work. But after watching the video, I see that the tail meat could have been obtained much faster. 
A pile of tails ready to eat.
Crayfish tails inserted in melted butter.
A fork-full of buttery crayfish tails. 
Because these were frozen, I did not attempt to suck the juice out. One day I would like to try fresh crawdads again and I think could enjoy eating them the way they do in the south, now that I have a better idea of what the yellowish substance is. 

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