Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Crawfish Time!

The end of summer is crawfish time in Sweden. Crawfish, or Crayfish or Crawdads as they're also called, is one of the most beloved foods here. There's some native crawfish, but the vast majority of what we eat is imported from Spain, China or Turkey, where it's prepared the Swedish way, for exporting. This year, I was lucky enough to be invited to some real crawfish fishing, with Per's family. Crawfish has been planted in many lakes in Sweden, to ensure some fun times and some home-cooked crawfish. We did our fishing in Göta Kanal. I took the pictures while it was still light, but we fished from 8 pm until midnight, so it got dark pretty quickly.

Let's talk about the pictures.
1. The canal. Isn't it beautiful?
2. Mats, baiting one of the cages with rotting fish.
3. The first crawfish caught!
4. If you look closely, you can see the basket underneath the water.
5. A closeup of the crawfish, pre-boiling.
6 & 7: Into the pot they go, still living
8 & 9: Perfect time for a picnic!

Ok, so the crawfish were caught. Per's mom washed the crawfish and boiled them the next day. You prepare a large pot of water with salt, sugar and crowns of dill - some also add a little bit of beer. You bring it to a rolling boil, and add the crawfish. They die instantly.

After they're cooked, you can eat them that day, or you can freeze them. Swedes eat their crawfish cold, you see. We have special crawfish parties, including festive lights and silly hats, and lots and lots of vodka. You eat the crawfish, sucking at every piece of the little red body, and you eat toast, sharp cheese.. and that's pretty much it. Some have other food too, but most stick to strictly crawfish. It's a once a year thing for me, and for most - even though you can now find frozen crawfish all year round in the stores. (I remember that as a kid, it could only be sold for a certain period of time, 3 or 4 weeks per year.)

After you've finished with the crawfish - don't throw away the shells! I always save them until the next day, and fry with saffron, tomatoes, onions, carrots and other spices to make a lovely seafood stock. It gives amazing flavor, and keeps well in the freezer.


Shelly said...

MMMM...that sounds yummy! Thanks to a grade school science class crayfish totally turned me off and I could never get over it, but your plate lookes georgous! I think I will have to give them a try!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE crawfish :-) Lucky you, I hope that I also will get an opportunity to fish crawfish one day!

Crystal said...

Anne, I always learn such interesting things from you, I had no idea crawfish were such a big deal over there! I used to live in Sacramento, California and they had a crawfish festival every year. Talk about good eats!

Ilva said...

I just saw that you came in second in Does My Blog Look Good In This #8! Congratulations!! It's really a very good photo!

Anonymous said...

I had never made crayfish and only just eat them once or twice... today it was time to bite the bullet and your blog page came on top of my favorite cookbook (Google, LOL!). There were all these Cajun recipes but that, everyone knows to expect, no so Swedish crayfish. So today, some Danube arthropods followed in the footsteps of your crayfish dish. The story was as much appreciated around this Romanian table as the crayfish were, believe me! Thanks :)

Anne said...

Ana, that's so cool! :) Happy to hear it!

Anonymous said...

I've been an big fan of crawfish myself for quite some time now. I grew up in Sacramento consuming crawfish using the conventional method of cooking it in family preferred broth and dipping in sauce of preference. Little did I know, there's a completely different way it's done that makes the experience revolutionary! If you ever get a chance to pay a visit to Southern California, I advise you to pay the Rockin' Crawfish restaurant a visit in the City of Westminster. You can look them up at for details in getting there!! CHEERS!