Have you ever seen food on display that seems as if it could jump out at you? That was certainly the case last week when I spied a jumble of frozen, deep red crawfish at a local market. They were arranged on a tray and I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
It’s no secret that I spend a good deal of my time during the summer months trapping the rusty crawfish from a pontoon boat on an area lake. This is an invasive species here in Wisconsin, and when a day’s catch yields thousands of these creeping, crawling critters, eating them quickly loses its appeal.
So you can imagine my fascination with the bright red crustaceans that were featured in a seafood case with a price tag of $3.49 a pound. I peered at them closely and for a long time. So long a time, in fact, that the clerk asked me if I wanted to purchase some. On an impulse, I told her yes and then followed that up with the question of how to cook them. Come to find out, they are already cooked (hence their bright red hue) and even seasoned with a Cajun spice. “Well, you can steam them or put them in a microwave,” the clerk explained, which was news to me. I have had a microwave for many years, but never has a crawfish been an occupant.
But I do have to admit, I have always been fascinated with Cajun culture, especially the food. I’m determined that someday I am going to visit Louisiana and see for myself the deep swamps where these creatures live. My ultimate dream would be to actually trap some with a local resident and then participate in a crawfish boil. It’s a top experience on my “bucket list.”
While feasting on these creatures, Cajuns have a saying, “suck the head and eat the tail” and on TV I have actually seen this done, although it always makes me shiver. Eating the tail meat seems innocent enough, but I’m a little leery of sucking the cooked brains from a creature that crawls around on the bottom of lakes and swamps. But I’m sure if I ever get the chance of being treated by a Louisiana local to a crawfish feast, I will subdue my aversion and give it a try.
In fact, I may do that this weekend when I’m planning on actually consuming my recent purchase. I’ve also included an interesting crawfish recipe for this week that I got from a friend who used to visit Louisiana frequently. He told me this is a very popular dish in that part of the country.
I hope no one calls, though, and asks me what I’m doing when I’m preparing my crawfish. I’d hate to admit I’ve got crawdads in my microwave.
1 bunch green onions
1 medium yellow onion
1 stick butter
2 Tbs. oil
4 Tbs. flour
1 cup chopped celery (with leaves)
1 half-cup chopped parsley
1 Lb. peeled crawfish tails
2-3 large cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper (black and red)
Chop onions. Save tops of green onions for later. Melt butter and combine with oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add flour; stir. (This is called a roux.) Cook roux, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until light brown. Add onions, celery and parsley. Cook until onions are clear. Add crawfish, stir and season with garlic, salt and peppers. Add enough water (or stock) to make a rather thick, soupy mixture. Cover and simmer over low heat about 15 minutes. Stir in chopped green onion tops. Serve over rice.
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