A crawfish boat works in a pond Vermilion Parish on March 17.
—LSU AgCenter/Bruce Schultz
Crawfish are plentiful — consider boiling, freezing
BATON ROUGE — With a glut of crawfish on the market, prices are dropping, and consumers might be interested in boiling and freezing crawfish at home.
Many restaurants have closed or switched to takeout and drive-through-only operations amid concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. That means restaurants aren’t buying nearly as much crawfish as they usually do.
Evelyn Watts, LSU AgCenter food scientist, said home preparation will result in crawfish with a shelf life of about three months. After that time, the crawfish will still be safe to eat, but the quality will decline as the fat starts to digest the tail meat, she said.
“It won’t have the optimum quality that you get from frozen crawfish bought at the store,” she said.
The shelf life can be extended by washing the fat from the tail meat, she said, but that will also take away much of the flavor.
Watts said a 30- to 35-pound sack of crawfish will yield about 5 pounds of meat.
If someone doesn’t have a boiling setup with big pots and outdoor burners, crawfish can be boiled on a stovetop in smaller amounts, she said.
If the crawfish is being prepared just for freezing, no seasoning or salt should be added to the water, Watts said. Dump crawfish into the boiling water, and once the water starts to boil again, cook for seven minutes. She said the key is for the tail meat to reach 180 degrees.
She recommends cooling the cooked crawfish before peeling it. The best results are obtained when crawfish are cooled to 50 degrees in less than an hour.
After peeling, crawfish can be placed in resealable plastic bags.
“A vacuum-sealed bag is even better,” Watts said.
Flattened bags of crawfish can be chilled quickly by placing them in a slurry of half water, half ice for 20 to 30 minutes. The bags can then be placed in a freezer.
“Put the bags in a single layer to freeze as fast as possible,” Watts said.
Editor's Note: Here are a few crawfish recipes to give readers an idea of what to cook!
1 stick margarine (halved)
4 cloves garlic
1 small onion
½ bell pepper, chopped fine
1 rib celery, chopped fine
2 refrigerator French bread loaves (raw dough)
1 lb. crawfish tails
½ can cream of shrimp soup
½ cup bread crumbs
8 oz. Mozzarella cheese
Combine one-half stick butter, two cloves pressed garlic and all veggies. Sauté five to eight minutes.
Mix one-half can of cream of shrimp soup, bread crumbs, cheese and seasonings. Fold in crawfish.
Slice loaf down middle. Spoon mixture into bread, being sure you can pinch sides together. Roll loaves over so seam is on bottom. Cut slits to vent.
Melt other half of butter with two cloves garlic and brush each loaf. Bake 25 to 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
FRIED CRAWFISH (LIGHT BATTER)
¾ cup cornstarch
½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
½ cup water
1 egg, beaten
1 quart corn oil
1 lb. crawfish tails
Stir together cornstarch, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
Add water and egg, stir until smooth.
Pour corn oil into large skillet to depth of half full. Heat oil to 375 degrees.
Dip crawfish in batter and fry two to three minutes until golden brown.
1 lb. hot sausage
½ cup onion
½ cup green onion
½ cup bell pepper
1 can beef bouillon
1 can French onion soup
1 small can tomato sauce
1 stick butter, cut into tablespoons
1 lb. crawfish tails
2 cups long grain rice
Brown sausage in pan.
Sauté onion, green onion, and bell pepper in separate pan until onions are soft.
Add sausage to onions and sauté together a minute or two. Add bouillon, onion soup and tomato sauce.
Pour mixture into Dutch oven. Add butter, crawfish tails and rice.
Bake 1 hour at 350 F.
2 to 3 lbs. crawfish tails
½ stick butter
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili sauce
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. liquid smoke
Salt and pepper to taste
½ lemon, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. parsley, minced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. hot sauce
Wash crawfish well and put in dish.
In saucepan, combine butter, olive oil, chili sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, salt, pepper, lemon, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, paprika, oregano, cayenne pepper and hot sauce.
Over low heat, simmer 10 minutes, then pour over crawfish.
Mix well, coating crawfish. Refrigerate two to three hours, turning several times.
Place three-quarter cup of water in steamer. Insert steamer plate and insert dish. Cover and turn on.
When bell rings, crawfish are ready.