Chef David Marteau Gazette, Crayfish, a rare delicacy!!!
The idea to write about crayfish (or crawfish), came to me during the small national holidays we just had here in Shanghai. I was off for three days (lucky me!!!) and so I decided to wonder onto the fresh seafood market to get an idea on what was available around this time of year. I found some beautiful live lobsters in some not so cleaned tanks, then as I was looking at them, it strikes me. I wanted to have some crayfish, unfortunately for me, I will have to wait a little as the season is about to start. Then, I remembered how as a kid, I used to catch them by hand, freely in the small river where I grew up. They were in abundance, and to be honest with you, they were so plentiful that we did not even catch them to eat, but for the fun of it. Then, I realized how the species is on the verge of becoming instinct, due to the pollution in our waters (whether here in China or anywhere else), indeed, a crayfish need to have plentiful of fresh water to stay alive and grow to a certain size before being harvested. There are so little in our days, that most probably, when the harvest season is around the corner, they are already sold to the US, UK, France and some other lucky countries, that can afford them. As the demand versus the supplies is there, they easily go for as much as 14$US per kilo, so let me tell you that the end consumers, like you and me, we will have to dig deep into our pockets to get some. Nevertheless, believe it or not, as it is becoming rare, most people who hear about them being on the market, go directly to buy them without asking the price. Shall I say it became a delicacy? I would think so!!!
The main problem with the harvesting, is, like a lot of products today, they don’t care about the size of them, they only size them later to be sold at a different price. It is ALL about making as much money as they can now, but they never think about how much money they will NOT have tomorrow, due to the extinction of this beautiful and delicate species.
As for the crayfish itself, it has a subtle taste, unfortunately, for the species, they are small, so like lobsters and other crustacean, we only eat the body, about 60% of it, then the rest, if you have the time (and you should definitely take it!!!), is to make, either, broth, bisque or sauces.
This way you will enjoy them as much as you should.
Now, that said, here is a cool recipe and easy to do. This is in my opinion the best way to eat them, as they will keep their natural fragrances and stay firm.
4 pounds (2 kg) crayfish
1 cup (250 mL) chopped onions
1 cup (250 mL) diced celery
1 cup (250 mL) cubed carrots
1 whole head of garlic, cut in half
16 cups (4 L) cold water
Few parsley stems, well washed
2 dried bay leaves
2 branches of fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 star anis
Place all the ingredients into a large soup pot over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. lower the heat to low and simmer the crayfish for 15 minutes, skimming if necessary. Remove the pot from the stove and let cool off at room temperatures. Gently, remove the crayfish and serve with your favorite sauce.
Now, that the crayfish are done, you can easily use the broth to make use of other recipes.
Simply strain the broth through a china cap. Cool it completely and place it in the refridgerator until the next day. The next day, remove the excess fat on top of the broth and use it to sauté some vegetables or other Fish / seafood you might have. Use the broth within 1 day or simply place it in a few small air tight containers and freeze with the date on it and keep for about 6 month.
I hope you enjoyed my small article, and that the next time you see crayfish in your local market, buy some and try them for yourself.
Have fun eating and cooking them.
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