Crawfish or "Crayfish" are well known here in South
Louisiana and their popularity is growing throughout the world.
Given that I've put together some facts on the mudbug that are
We'll start with the general definition:
Any of various freshwater crustaceans of the
genera Cambarus and Astacus, resembling a lobster but
There are more than 500 different species and sub-species
throughout the world with most being right here in the U.S. Most
crawfish live in areas with a moderate temperature and fresh
Crawfish here in the U.S. are usually 2 - 4 inches when mature. Australian
crawfish can get as big as 15.5 inches and weigh 8 lbs and "No,
they are not Lobsters". The most
generally fished crawfish in Australia is called the "Yabby".
farm raised crawfish are a brownish/red color with a few oddities
like white and blue.
Here's couple of blue crawfish found recently.
In general some 60 to 100 million pounds of crawfish are harvested
annually from about 130,000 farmed acres in Louisiana and The
Atchafalaya Basin. Retail price
per whole pound is about $1.50 and 70% of the consumption is right
here in the State. Processed and packaged crawfish tails go for an
average $7.00 a pound.
About 10 years ago the U.S. was exporting about 14 million lbs.
of crawfish to European nations. Today it's only about 1 million
lbs. with imports of around 9 million pounds.
Are you eating Louisiana or imported crawfish? With packaged
crawfish tails it's easy to tell... just read the package. Did you
know that whole frozen crawfish are also imported? Hmmm...
Is there a difference in the taste of imported and Louisiana
crawfish? Some say "no", most say "yes" as do I.
Even if they did taste exactly the same I buy Louisiana crawfish to
support the industry here. I do the same thing when I buy rice and
A short video clip about crawfish in Louisiana ...Click
Softshell Crawfish are produced in Louisiana but numbers are low;
the reasons being popularity and production difficulties. Don't be
afraid to try these at the restaurant as they are very tasty.
If you look for these softies to cook at home you'll have a hard
time finding them.
Down here you'll see the boiling pots roaring on the weekends
during the peak of the crawfish season. The season runs from around
November through the winter and ends when Summer begins. Price and
size depend on weather conditions such as proper rain amounts and
moderate temperatures. Those "best times" usually occur
from March to May but, as you know, the weather can be almost
summer-like here during the winter months.
When buying fresh whole crawfish to boil pay attention what what
you get. If you pour the crawfish in an ice chest, fill it with
water and 1/4 of the bugs are floating (dead) there was a problem
somewhere down the line. If this happens to me, and, the business
that sells the fresh crawfish also boils them to sell cooked, I
figure they just "don't care" about what you get. Don't go
back there to buy your live crawfish. Why? Because they're boiling
the same live ones you do and know good and well what you
If you deal with the same place, usually get good crawfish, and,
you encounter a problem, be sure to notify the business... they may
not realize that they bought a bad batch from the fisherman.
When buying crawfish already boiled, and, you discover a bunch of
mushy or noticeably flakey crawfish meat, those crawfish were dead
before they were boiled. Are they dangerous? I ain't dead yet. Do
they taste different? A little... Do I like mush in my mouth?...
Ordering boiled crawfish in a restaurant or from a seafood dealer
for the first time can be a disappointing surprise if you're not
careful. Ordering crawfish should be no different from ordering a
steak the way YOU want it! But, you have to ask for what you want.
For instance... I like my crawfish boiled with the seasoning in the
water, not sprinkled on the outside. I also like them a little spicy
but not so hot my lips fall off when I eat them. Ask the waitress or
dealer to boil them like you want them. If they won't do it... move
Boil your own...
If you're going to boil your own crawfish I have a good recipe
that everyone here is satisfied with. It applies to boiling crawfish
in a big pot with 10 gallons of water. You can cut the recipe
according to the number of gallons of water you use.. not by how
many crawfish you cook.
If you do boil your own crawfish you should purge them. Purging
means to soak them in water in order to clean them internally and
externally. I use plain old fresh water, some folks add salt. The
salt supposedly makes the crawfish regurgitate which is supposed to
clean them out. If I were a freshwater crawfish and someone put me
in a tank of salt water I think I'd just close my mouth... how about
you? I've been purging with fresh water for years and it works
When purging crawfish in an ice chest I put the entire still
sealed sack in the chest and fill it up with water. Then I'll move
the sack around making the water flow through it, pull the sack out
and dump the water. If the water is super dirty I do it again, if
not, I'll open the sack and dump the crawfish in so they can run
around. This allows me to pick out grass and bait fish sometimes
left in the sack. If you move fast enough they won't pinch you... if
Change the water every 15 minutes or so until it is relatively
clean. Don't let your mudbugs sit in the same purge water very long.
The oxygen begins to deplete and they'll start to die.
Other cooking things...
You can use crawfish as you would shrimp and crab in most any
dish. In some instances crawfish work better in a dish than the
other two. It's just about your taste. Below are a few recipes we
I'll also make crawfish stew and, come to think of it, I never
made a crawfish gumbo! Hmmm.. sounds like a new cooking adventure to
Replace shrimp in a salad with crawfish...!
Preserving crawfish meat...
If you choose to save left over crawfish meat simply put it in a
zipper bag, add a little water, get all the air out and freeze, that's it.
When preserving crawfish remember to freeze some in small quantities
for omelets... mmmm!
If you go to any one of the Search Engines you can choose to
search for Images of the crawfish. You'll get to see a vast
quantity of different types.
Here is an Australian crayfish website... there are some
interesting pictures there.
Eat more bugs.....
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