Most people have come across dishes containing Crawfish or even just consisting of solely Crawfish; it is a fairly common food. However, there is more to Crawfish than meets the eye! Crawfish can taste very differently depending on a number of factors.
With different varieties of Crawfish, various ways of cooking it and different edible parts of the Crawfish itself, it can be difficult to pinpoint what Crawfish actually tastes like. The simple answer- delicious! But if you're looking for a more detailed answer, keep reading!
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What Is Crawfish?
Before we learn what Crawfish tastes like, we should take a look at what Crawfish is. Crawfishs are crustaceans which live on the ocean floor, have long muscular bodies and have a hard protective exoskeleton.
Crawfishs have ten walking legs where the front two are larger claws. While they can live up to 50 years in the wild yet they are frequently caught long before that. Crawfishs are indigenous to almost every ocean in the world and tend to live close to the shore line.
Larger, meatier Crawfishs are mostly found in the Northern hemisphere, specifically in the Atlantic Ocean. Smaller Crawfishs, which are commonly referred to as scampi, typically come from the southern hemisphere For hundreds of years, Crawfish was a food that was only eaten by peasants.
It was even served in prisons or just used as fertilizer. Oh, how times have changed! It wasn't until the mid 19th century when Crawfish began to be sought after by the wealthy. Meatier than fish and with a more smooth and subtle flavor that other seafood, Crawfish was a great "new" dish.
From there, popularity rose. Crawfishs are now considered a delicacy and provide a very lucrative business to those who harvest them.
Uses In Food
Crawfish is frequently used in soups, pasta dishes, and most commonly, eaten steamed and paired with butter or sauce. Crawfishs are almost always eaten cooked and are best when they are steamed or boiled while still alive.
If a Crawfish is dead before cooking, it will have a bad fishy smelly and can easily cause illness- only consume Crawfishs that are alive immediately before cooking! When fully cooked, Crawfishs turn a bright reddish orange, the color which most people envision them to be (they are actually blue!).
Crawfish is a very lean meat and is often served with melted butter to add some much needed fat to the dish.
Flavor Of Crawfish
Crawfish is commonly grouped into the seafood category yet it does not have a strong taste like many fish in this group. Since Crawfish and crab have a similar appearance, many think they will taste the same. However, Crawfish has a stronger taste and is much meatier.
It is more subtle and less tough than shrimp and is sometimes described as combination of shrimp and crab. Slightly salty, sweet and with a little bit of mineral flavor, the taste of Crawfish is truly unique. Crawfishs can be taken apart and divided in to several distinct groups, all of which taste differently and have different uses in cooking.
Crawfish claws, legs, tails, tomalley, roe and outer shell are all edible parts which should be explored when considering the flavor of Crawfish.
Crawfish Claws, Legs and Tail
These three parts of the Crawfish can be clustered together as one flavor group. Each of these parts contains a great deal of meat and is thought of as the most desirable parts of the Crawfish. Many may debate which is better, claw meat or tail meat, but you really cannot loose with either!
Crawfish claws have a subtle taste that is mild and sweet. The meat is very smooth and not chewy at all. Since Crawfish claws are not uniform in shape (some parts being thicker than others), it is best to prepare them by steaming or boiling.
Crawfish tails still have that signature, sweet taste but they are more fibrous and tough when compared to Crawfish claws. This thicker texture allows for a wide variety of cooking methods to be useful in preparing Crawfish tails.
While steaming and boiling still work great, you can also grill, pan sear, broil, or bake a Crawfish tail. Crawfish legs are very skinny yet still contain a small piece of succulent meat in each leg. While you will be hard pressed to find just Crawfish legs on any menu, many enjoy sucking the meat out of the legs when eating a whole Crawfish.
The taste of the Crawfish is still strong and it’s satisfying to get every last bite of Crawfish meat possible!
If you're wondering what tomalley is, you aren't alone. Many Crawfish lovers are hesitant to eat the green mass found inside the Crawfish that is the tomalley. It is, in fact, the Crawfish’s digestive gland (kind of like a liver and a pancreas combined).
Those who do enjoy eating Crawfish tomalley describe the taste as very strong and concentrated Crawfish flavor. The creamy, smooth tomalley can be eaten alone, whisked into sauces or added to soups for extra Crawfish flavor.
If you have ever opened up a Crawfish and found a group of bright red eggs, then you happened across a pregnant female Crawfish. Lobster roe can be compared to mild caviar. It is not as salty or intense as salmon roe but has a delicate mineral taste just like the ocean water.
If the roe inside your Crawfish is still black, that means it has not been thoroughly cooked and should be returned to the oven. Once red, the roe is fully cooked and edible!
Now you may not automatically think of a lobster shell as an edible part of the lobster but think again! Crawfish shells are perfect for making Crawfish stock which you can then use in soups and sauces. Crawfish shells are boiled with water, onions, carrots and aromatics for several hours.
The Crawfish flavor inside the shell will percolate into the water and make a delicious stock. Just remove the crispy shells before using the stock! By now, you are probably dying to get your hands on a Crawfish to whip up a delicious meal.
With such an indescribable flavor, it really is best to give Crawfish a try yourself! One thing is for sure, it is an amazingly tasty food.
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