What Does Crawfish Taste Like and How to Eat?

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

I have often heard so many persons asking questions about what crawfish taste like and even arguing bitterly about it.

For the fact that this topic is becoming too persistent for my liking and also because crawfish is something I enjoy eating, so therefore I have taken it upon myself to provide detailed answers to these questions and also put a stop to this arguments once and for all.

So, for today’s post we are going to be talking about the now famous crawfish; what it is, how to properly eat it and a whole lot of other stuff including what it actually tastes like. So, what does crawfish taste like? Let’s find out!

What Exactly is a Crawfish?

Before discussing anything about crawfish, I think it is imperative that we know what they really are. Generally, crawfish or crayfish as it sometimes called are crustaceans that lives on the floor of the ocean, they have pretty long muscular bodies and also a very hard protective exoskeleton, it has ten legs for walking with the front two considered as claws.

Crawfish usually has a life span of up to fifty years but unfortunately for them they caught before then, killed and most times eaten. Compared to other sea creatures in the ocean the crawfish is quite different as it lives close to the shore line.

Species of crawfish found in the northern hemisphere are usually larger and meatier most especially the ones in the Atlantic Ocean.

While on the other hand there’s the smaller crawfish (or scampi as they are called) that basically comes from the southern hemisphere.

For a very long time (like a couple of hundred years ago) crawfish was seen as a food for the poor and was a very popular dish served in prisons and most times used as fertilizers.

In the mid -19th century or thereabout things changed as the crawfish a food meant for the poor elevated to the ranks of the rich and mighty, it practically became a sought-after food by the wealthy as at that time even up till now.

They are meatier than fish, smooth and has quite a unique flavor compared to other seafood and hence the sudden crave for this dish. The popularity of crawfish has grown to the extent that it is now seen as a special delicacy and also considered a lucrative business to people who sell them.

In terms of eating the crawfish you can try it out steamed with butter or sauce, they are also commonly used in soups and pasta dishes.

It is usually advisable to cook and consume crawfish when it is alive because if you cook the crawfish when it is dead it is most likely going to have a horrible fishy smell and, in most cases, can be harmful to health. To know when it is properly cooked observe the color as it changes to a bright reddish orange.

Crawfish vs Lobsters – Are They So Different?

Crawfish are not so different from lobsters; most times people often find it difficult to tell the difference between these two creatures. As matter of fact they both have more in common in terms of appearance, method of preparation and their delicious taste compared to other sea creatures.

So, the question becomes if both creatures have so much in common what then is the difference between them? For the purpose of this article we will be looking at their differences from three different perspective and these includes the following;

Size and appearance: It is said that if you have a bowl full of crawfish and lobsters mixed together, the most visible way to differentiate them is size as crawfish are usually smaller in size compared to lobsters hence they most times look like baby lobsters. In length crawfish grows to an average of three to six inches while lobsters grow as long as twenty to twenty-five inches or thereabout.

Natural territory and feeding habit: Natural territory or habitat happens to be one the biggest way to differentiate lobsters from crawfish. Lobsters tend to spend most of their lives living in saltwater, oceans and seas included. While crawfish on the other hand prefers to live in freshwater such as rivers, streams and ponds.

Although there’s a difference in the salinity level of both living conditions, their habit of living is quite similar as both of them tend to live under rocks and crevices.

In terms of feeding, crawfish usually feeds on both living and dead plants and animals while lobsters feed on live animals like mollusk, worms, fish and other life plants. In extreme cases though lobsters tend to feed on its own flesh after molting.

Preparation and flavor: It is more or less impossible to tell the difference between lobsters and crawfish when they are prepared the same way. Although some persons might say that lobsters taste a little bit saltier due to its prolonged stay in saltwater, but the truth is the difference in flavor has less to do with the habitat of the creature and more to do with how it is prepared.

Lobsters most especially the tails are usually boiled and dipped in butter. Crawfish are boiled all round dipped in spicy Cajun seasoning and probably served with corn and tomatoes.

How to Properly Eat Crawfish

Eating crawfish for the first time can be messy and tricky but with a little bit of practice you will begin to realize how easy it is. It basically involves the following steps:

Step 1: Twist off the tail from the rest of the crawfish, this is properly done by bending sideways or pulling up and down (sideways works better though). Once that is done you can choose to discard the head or suck it to get a more concentrated taste of the spice and also the crawfish head taste. 

Step 2: Next step is to peel off shell material at the opening to ensure easy and smooth removal of the meat. This is done by holding the tail and carefully peel off along its length. Dip in your desired sauce when you are done.

Step 3: Firmly grasp the tail of the crawfish at the base and pull out the meat from its shell gently. If you get this correctly, the meat comes out intact.

Note: it is important that you properly cook your crawfish and try to ensure that it is alive when cooking.

What Do Crawfish Taste Like?

We have said quite a lot about crawfish and I think it’s time we move on to main topic of the day which is what crawfish really taste like;

Although crawfish are categorized under the same group as fishes it does not in any way taste the same as fish. Most times people jump to the conclusion that since crab and crawfish are similar in nature then they should both taste the same. This is actually wrong as crawfish has a lot more stronger taste and are more meaty.

Crawfish are usually less tough and more subtle compared to shrimp, on most occasion it is often a combination of crab and shrimp. It basically has a sweet taste with a little bit of salt and mineral flavor. It is safe to say that crawfish has a distinctive taste. It also important to note that raw crawfish tastes a little less saltier compared to lobsters.

Crawfish can be taken apart and separated into numerous groups, all of which has an entirely different taste and have different applications in cooking. Its claws, legs, tomalley and roe are all parts that is worth exploring when trying to find out the taste of crawfish.

Crawfish claws, tail and legs.

These three essential part of the crawfish can be assembled together as one taste group. Each one of these parts usually contains a good amount of meat and are considered the desirable parts of the crawfish. Although many may debate which is better; tail meat or claw meat but honestly there’s no way you can lose choosing either of them.

Crawfish claws have a fine taste that is sweet and light. The meat is not in any way chewy and also very smooth. For the fact they are not uniform in shape it is therefore best prepared by either boiling or steaming.

Unlike crawfish claws the tails have a distinctive sweet taste, they are usually more stalky and tough compared to crawfish claws. This thickness in nature basically allows for numerous cooking techniques for preparing the crawfish tails.

Steaming and boiling works great no doubt but to get the perfect taste of the crawfish tail you can grill, pan sear, broil or bake a crawfish tail. As for the legs, it may look skinny but I can assure you that there’s a piece of juicy meat in each leg. You can eat it by sucking the meat.

For those of you that don’t know what tomalley is, it is that green stuff found inside the crawfish, it is also the crawfish digestive gland more like the liver, kidney and pancreas all combined. Its taste is usually very strong and concentrated and it is also smooth, creamy and can either be eaten alone or added to sauces or soups to add an extra crawfish flavor.

Crawfish roe, on the other hand, are a group of bright red eggs you will find in a pregnant female crawfish, it usually has a light mineral taste like that of ocean water. If the roe inside the crawfish is red, it simply means that it is properly cooked and therefore eatable but if it black then it is not edible and should be returned for cooking.

So… what does crawfish taste like? If you didn’t know, reading through this article gives you a pretty good idea, and I’m sure you want to give it a try. I suggest you get out there and try out a delicious meal of crawfish to completely satisfy your curiosity.

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Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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