Sunday, March 30, 2008

Tis the Season to be Jolly

It's crawfish season here in New Orleans (the season lasts from the months of March through June), and the crawfish is abundant, scrumptious, and amazingly affordable. You can get it for as low as $1.00/lb from the individual seafood vendors around this time of year.

To me, crawfish (or "mudbug," "crayfish," or "crawdad") has the most palatable flavor of any shellfish. Although the texture of the crawfish meat itself is not substantial as other shellfishes, the flavor of crawfish is distinctly and deliciously umami. The meat is not as delicate as crab, and it isn't as tough or overly succulent as lobster or shrimp.

Also, the green-colored, scrambled egg-like "tomale" of the crawfish is superior--it tastes almost like a hearty seafood bisque or a savory pudding.

The step-by-step instructions on how to eat crawfish is simple.

Step #1: First, using your fingers, separate the body of the crawfish from the tail. Then, take the husk of the body and suck out the spicy seafood broth (hopefully, flavored with fiery and zesty Cajun spices) that has collected in the tiny soup repository.

People from New Orleans typically don't eat the claws of the crawfish unless they are particularly substantial. Otherwise, just discard them.

Step #2: Then, pinch off the fan-like part of the tail with your thumb and pointer finger, and using your pointer finger, push the meat inside the tail through the shell.

Step #3: Repeat Steps #1 and #2 until you've emptied out the entire pot of crawfish. Enjoy, and y'all come to visit New Orleans soon!

Oh, and also, if you are interested in New Orleans, you should check out a new memoir I am reading by Kim Sunee (with fantastic recipes). The book is about Kim Sunee, a Korean-American adoptee who grew up in New Orleans and lived in France and mingled with the culinary greats (her beau + friends) in Europe. The book involves heartbreak, love, and life. I can't wait to post a full review!


  1. i will be in nola next week to see my inlaws and am so happy you reminded us that it's crawfish season! it's not quite top of mind when you live in the great midwest. :)

    thanks for the post.

  2. Beautiful post.

    $1.00/ lb? Seriously? Damn!

  3. GEEeez, I could NEVER bring myself to eat one of those.

    Being from Brooklyn, New York, I just can't imagine such a thing, even though now I am stuck in Florida.

    Guess my boyfriend "The Manager" (that's what his friends call him, I call him my Big Bear) will have to stick with italian past bakes and gourmet pizza.

  4. PE the pics are inspiring and I'm not sure how you can get all of those action shots without getting goo all over your camera. I want some bugs, do they have any here in the Bay Area that are worth chasing down? That book sounds interesting too, what do you think of the recipes?

  5. oh man. so glad that my relatives just brought back some for us when they went to new orleans for easter. man it was so good. do you use any kind of dipping sauce for your crawfish?

  6. that looks delicious, but I have always been too lazy to eat those or even blue crabs....too much work in managing them out, I am just an instant gratification diner at times.

    maybe I should try crawfish after I've already eaten as a dessert?

    photos look inticing.....

  7. PE, you didn't say how many crawfish you chowed down on? I love the "concept" of crawfish because they're like mini lobsters and look so cute in gumbo or jambalaya, but it's another one of those food items that seem like a lot of work for a little bit of meat. Oh well, I got over my aversion to cracking crab so maybe I might check out crawfish!

  8. I wonder if crayfish are the same thing as crawdads I use to find in the rivers in Oregon? I'm not sure if they are the same.
    If you were playing in the water they would pinch your toes...very tightly. Little stinkers. I have never eaten one though. Time for some payback?

  9. Great post--- enjoyed it very much!

  10. Thank you so much for your comments Gigi, Syd, Chiffonade, and Chef JP!

    I unfortunately did get my camera a little dirty, but it was worth it in the end Foodhoe. Have you ever tried out Swan Oyster Depot? I am not sure whether they have crawfish, but I've heard they have great seafood there. Also too, Hard Knox Cafe is owned by people who used to live down New Orleans.

    I actually eat crawfish plain (with just the Zatarain's seasoning that it was boiled in). My brother uses a combination of cocktail sauce and mayonnaise. What do you have Bluang3lbby?

    I hear you Taste Memory and Chef Ben, it is a lot of work to eat shellfish like this! And I ate so many, that I lost count!

    I believe they are Melinda, I agree, payback is sweet and delicious!

  11. Oh, and the book is good so far (but I really only got started) Food Hoe, and there are a few recipes interspersed throughout the book. I actually am only a few pages in, so I'll have to let you know more as I read it!

  12. PE- i usually use mayo and ketchup. thats how our family has always eaten it. but then some of my uncles and cousins like to add sirracha to it. i can't handle as much spicy things as they can.

    tiny tidbit-crawfish is also known as crayfish and mudbugs.

  13. Never tasted crawfish before. Anything like lobster? Or it is lobster?

  14. Hi. Your blog, I found an article about Japan
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  15. your crawfish are tempting me to no end!

    I loved your description of the crawfish tomalley - so true! One of these days, I hope to make it out there to try this!

  16. We can't get these little morsels often, but it is really helpful to see your step by step on how to eat them!

  17. Re: crawfish in the Bay Area -- you can drive up the Delta towards Sacramento to the little town of Isleton, where you can buy a cooler full for pretty cheap (maybe not $1.00/lb. but possibly $2) at Bob's Bait Shop. Look for the sign that says "The Master Baiter" -- no, I'm not kidding. Get some Zatarain's seasoning at the grocery store & boil 'em up in a kettle (after purging them in salt water) with some halved corn on the cob and small red potatoes, then drain the water & turn 'em out on a picnic table covered with newspaper, put your old clothes on and go to town.

    Or, you can just go to PJ's Oyster Bed in the Inner Sunset. Call them up first & ask whether they have crawfish that day.

    Or do what I'm doing in about 3 weeks: go to New Orleans & get some at Acme Oyster House.

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  19. Wow--I didn't know there was an art to eating crawfish.

  20. i practically fainted when I heard about the 'crumbs' memoir....but took only a slight peek at it at the bookstore and was relieved totally different from what I am assembling....I just posted a two part series food/memoir type of thing at my blog. let me know what you think of crumbs.

    Anyways, just saw a clip of a very young emeril lagasse showing julia childs how to eat a was kinda sexy in a very strange way....

  21. Greetings!
    Robert-Gilles From Shizuoka In Japan!
    Great article on crayfish!
    You remind me so much of those we eat back at home in Burgundy! Incidentally we often eat them with a "Sauce americaine"! No need to explain...LOL
    Looking forwar to visiting and commenting again!


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