When we stopped a few days ago at a seafood buffet, we were able to enjoy some invertebrate seafood that we don't usually have at home. One of the choices that we've never made at home, but we enjoyed at the restaurant, were boiled crayfish. One of the people in the group clearly stated that he had never eaten a crayfish because he did not know how. This is not unusual. I remember the first time I wanted to eat one of these mini-lobsters, I was in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I saw a man across the restaurant having some. I ordered an appetiser of crawdads (as they are known in New Orleans), carried it across the restaurant, and asked the man if I could join him so he could show me how to eat the seafood. He was taken aback, but was very willing to share his knowledge. And, in the good spirit of Christianity, we are paying it forward and will share with you the steps that many people use to eat crayfish.
First, pick up the crayfish by holding its head and its tail. Identify the place where the two halves of the body connect, and move your fingers closer to that centre point. You want to be able to twist the body here to separate the two halves. As the two halves are twisted in opposite directions, you can see the juices start dripping onto the plate.
Once you have two halves, you can pull out the tail meat and enjoy that. It is small, but very flavourful! But, do not waste the head portion… there is more edible stuff in there!
If you pull back the top part of the head, you will see the small brain and perhaps some roe in this upper part of the body. These are not only edible, but considered a delicacy. Some people will just suck the head half in hopes that they will suck out the brains and the roe while others snap open this part of the body and then suck out the contents. If you aren't squeamish (some in our table were unwilling to try this tasty invertebrate), give it a try; it's quite tasty.
Then, there are the claws and the legs. These have meat that can be worth eating, but getting to that meat is a challenge. The claws are very hard to break. We do not suggest using your teeth because you will need those teeth for other foods in the future. But, the claws are so small that they would not fit in a cracking tool, like the one you use on crab legs. If you can break open the claw, the meat inside is delicious! The legs are softer shells, but it is still not easy to get any of the meat from the legs. The legs are thin and have two joints which can be broken and then, you can work to get the small amount of meat in the leg, or you could suck individual legs to get any meat that you can, but particularly to get the tasty juices.
From one of several trips to New Orleans years ago, I remember natives recommending that one should order about 3-4 pounds per person of crayfish to feel full. Given the spirit of Lent, this reminds us of gluttony; this is why we are simply sharing our parea's (our gathering's) experience of lagostino lobster as part of a mainly vegetable-based meal.
Crayfish are small, but packed with protein and magnesium, both being essential to our well-being. They are an interesting food. Boiled or steamed are best and you can use them as you would use whole shrimp, lobster, or crab. We chose to eat them out instead of at home. Kali Orexi!
|New Orleans' Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church. This church turns 150 years old in 2014! It is the oldest Greek Orthodox church in North or South America. Source of image: http://www.holytrinitycathedral.org|