Recipe round-up: Crayfish boils

Photo: Pixabay

Happy Invasive Species Week!

Many of us are intimately familiar with invasive species. Maybe your backyard is slowly filling with garlic mustard. Or a round goby stole the bait off your last hook. Invasive species are those pernicious plants, animals, and microorganisms that put down roots in habitats that aren’t their own, often sending destructive ripples across the landscape and food web.

During National Invasive Species Week (February 27 through March 3, 2017), some of Michigan Sea Grant’s Extension educators have been highlighting a handful of non-native organisms causing trouble for Michigan ecosystems. One of them is the strikingly colored, disease-bearing red swamp crayfish.

In (dubious) honor of the red swamp crayfish, this week’s Recipe Round-Up features three recipes for turning its clawed cousins into a tasty dinner. Crayfish boils are a staple culinary event in many southern communities, and everyone stirring the pot has a different idea of the “right” way to cook and season this iconic dish. No matter which veggies and spices you use, be sure to start with clean, fresh crawfish — and plenty of napkins.

Please note: if you’re buying crayfish, seek out a reputable seafood dealer who won’t try to sell you an illegal sack of live, invasive crayfish. Look for native species or those that aren’t on the Michigan Department of Natural Resource’s warning list. If you’re catching your own, you may harvest invasive species as long as you don’t use them as fishing bait or transport them to any destination other than your kitchen. Learn more about the state’s rules for invasive crayfish.

Crawfish Boiling 101: Two expert crayfish boilers share their tried-and-true tips. There’s plenty of flexibility in this Louisiana recipe, which emphasizes technique over precise ingredient lists.

Simple Crawfish Boil: If you like straightforward crustaceans with few competing flavors (or if you’re not a fan of Cajun spice blends), try this simple, lemony recipe, adapted from Tennessee food writer Tammy Algood.

Alton Brown’s Crawfish Boil: Alton Brown, a frequent flyer on the Food Network’s Good Eats and host of several competitive cooking shows, offers a recipe that’s light on the veggies and heavy on the spices.

Planning to try any of these recipes? Have you cooked with crayfish before? Let us know in the comments!

If you want to learn more about the native and invasive crawdads that hang out in our state’s streams, check out “Crayfishes of Michigan,” a new poster in the Michigan Sea Grant bookstore!


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