When it comes to living in the south, for many of us this is the time of year we long in anticipation of peeling that first tail and sucking that crawfish head. They are affectionately known as Crayfish, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mudbugs. It’s like our eyes roll back in our heads when we relish that crab boil flavor and eat that first crawfish. Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, “Crawfish season” has always been a much anticipated time for my family. When I was a little girl, my dad would buy a live sack or two for a memorable Crawfish boil. My favorite memory is when he spilled the sack and the mudbugs took over our kitchen floor. My siblings and I would always gather to watch this spectacular sight. That day, we all scattered, screaming and jumping on top the kitchen table. None of us were any help as we watched my dad sweep them up and gather them to put them into the boiling pot of water awaiting them. Needless to say, there were some mudbugs that had backed up and were hiding under the refrigerator. After a few hours, my mom was in the kitchen alone and she started screaming, as a few crawfish resurfaced.
Growing up in New Orleans, we watched the News and kept abreast of what the forecast was for the next crawfish season. 2015 promised to be plentiful and well- priced. It was the most exciting news and music to our ears when Crawfish farmers told us that Crawfish were plentiful. My understanding of a great Crawfish Season: As spring sets in and temperatures start to warm up a bit, rainfall tends to increase and this starts the crawfish season. This tends to happen around late February / early March, but can vary greatly depending on how much rain December and January had. If it rains quite a bit in the fall / winter months and then warms up early, the crawfish season will usually start a little earlier.
We love our Crawfish, but the price has to be right. My family craves them, but we refuse to pay for them when they are $4.99 lb. already boiled. A way around it is to buy them LIVE and boil them ourselves. This year we started buying 20 pounds of LIVE crawfish every Friday during Lent. Of course we had to throw in a couple pounds of shrimp, corn, potatoes, whole pods of garlic, chopped onions and lemon. Everyone has their favorite Seafood Boil seasoning but we use Louisiana Crawfish Shrimp & Crab Boil. Once we eat until we are content, we start separating the heads and tails and peel them. These tails accumulate until we are ready to make our ANNUAL CRAWFISH BISQUE. When crawfish reach under $2.00 a pound we then buy a 30-40 pound sack and boil specifically to peel for the Bisque. It’s a tedious process to make sure we have all heads cleaned, tails peeled and that we retrieve as much fat out of the heads that will later be added to the gravy. It’s a true LABOR OF LOVE but well worth it. My husband has the scissors and toothbrush ready to clean those heads. When preparing the heads for crawfish bisque, it’s a process. The eyes and tentacles have to be cut and the inside of the head has to be scrubbed clean. Remember, they don’t have that name MUDBUGS for nothing.
This year, my sister had a BIG Seafood boil for her Birthday Celebration. My husband boiled two sacks of Crawfish, 30 pounds of turkey necks, 20 pounds of shrimp, smoke sausage, corn, potatoes, mushrooms and boiled eggs. When it comes to the extras, I have heard folk putting everything but the kitchen sink. Asparagus, Brussel sprouts, carrots, Broccoli, cauliflower, wieners, pig feet are just a few other ingredients I have seen thrown in the pot.
As the month of May approaches, Crawfish are usually at their lowest price. For Crawfish bisque it’s worth it to buy Belle River or Select because you want large heads for stuffing. We will begin that tedious process of making Crawfish bisque that will last us a whole year. We also make enough gravy and put in quart size ‘ziplock’ bags that go along with a bag of stuffed crawfish heads. Making Crawfish bisque is a once a year undertaking. We pull these little delicacies out the freezer for Special occasions and when family and friends visit from out of town. It’s a sight to see someone eat them who have no idea how they are to get the stuffing out of the heads.