Crawfish Season: A Beginner's Guide to Crawfish
What is a Crawfish?
Crawfish are small crustaceans that look very similar to red lobsters. Crawfish are often referred to as craydids, crawdids, rock lobsters, or mudbugs. There are many more names for crawfish, but in southern Alabama you're most likely to hear "mudbugs" or "crawfish." Crawfish are found in fresh waters like rivers, swamps, and lakes. Although they may look like lobsters, their taste is very unique- not like lobster or even crab. Their unique taste is what makes them Southern Staples in traditional Crawfish Boils or Gumbo!
When to Buy Crawfish?
Crawfish season for trappers and fisherman is November to July, and you'll know it's a good season if we had a warm, wet winter. The best crawfish to buy are ones caught in late February through May (Spring-early Summer). Cold, dry weather during the winter can greatly impact the haul of crawfish during season. Cold weather is a major contributor to crawfish suuplies, because temperatures below 60 degrees makes them less active and less likely to bait into traps. Crawfish will burrow into the mud, hence the name mudbugs, and fall into a dormant state when they get too cold. Being too cold and staying dormant for too long causes the crawfish to die. Another factor to consider when buying crawfish, is the farms they come from. Great weather during the cold season leads to over population of crawfish. Over crowded traps and farms can cause the crawfish to be smaller in size, therefore there's less meat.
What is a Crawfish Boil?
A crawfish boil is a southern tradition, the crawfish is boiled with corn, potatoes, sausage, and Cajun Seasonings. Then, its spread over a table covered in newspaper and devoured. Want to make your own crawfish boil? Here are the steps:
- Bring 4.5 gallons of water to a rolling boil in a 14-16 gallon stockpot of high
- Add seafood boil seasoning, salt, Creole seasoning, bay leaves, lemons, garlic, and onions. Stir until all the seasonings dissolve.
- Add potatoes, and return to a boil, boil for 20 minutes. Add sausage and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Cut each ear of corn into 4 pieces and add them to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add crawfish, and simmer for another 10 minutes
- Line a sheet pan (or table) with newspaper or parchment paper
- Pour crawfish boil through a large colander, or remove the veggies and crawfish with a slotted spoon. Place the food in the pan or on the table
How to eat Crawfish?
- Separate the tail from the head- Pinch the head with one hand, pinch the tail with the other. Twist and pull to separate.
- Suck the Head (optional, but highly recommended)- the head is where all the flavor is, plus the "crawfish butter." Crawfish butter is the yellow stuff in the head.
- Peel the Tail- remove the first 2 shell segments. Pinch the tail just above the tail fin and use your other hand to pull the meat out.
Eating crawfish might seem intimidating at first. The simple twist and pull method is all it takes. Within a few seconds, you can enjoy the little piece of heaven that is highly sought by mudbug connoisseur. With a little bit of patience and practice, you'll be able to get through an entire pile of mudbugs in no time and fit right in at your next crawfish boil!