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Freshwater Crayfish

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thank you for your time.

I noticed that crayfish used to be a significant part of the Haute Cuisine repertoire until not too long ago (Pic, Point, Chapel, Bise, etc.) but they now seem to be a bit off the culinary map.

I've often heard that this may be because the quality of the material has deteriorated significantly due to the depleted stock of native varietes.

Since I've found a source for the more common (american?) variety, I was wondering whether you thought it worthwhile and if so, whether you could suggest a recipe.

Thank you.


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Most European varieties of freshwater crayfish were wiped out by disease some years back. I'm not sure what has been replacing them - Turkish rather than American I thought.

They are farmed commercially but on a small scale and are generally very expensive now for what meat you end up with. My wife is Finnish and I remember that crayfish went on most everything there during the season - pork chops for instance - but that the lake by her family home hasn't had any crayfish now for years. So one has to drink the Vodka without the excuse of shellfish now.

They are easy to prepare. Just before boiling, the middle section of the tail is twisted and pulled to yank out the canal carrying waste. They are then dropped into the boiling water for a few minutes, shelled and eaten.

The Chefs you mention came from around Lyon where local freshwater fish, pike quenelles especially, is still mainly what's on offer rather than the turbot, hake etc of the seaside, so no real surprise that crayfish figured prominently in their dishes whilst they were available.

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On "Great Chefs" today, there was a crayfish appetizer. The chef said he got his from Turkey, so that must be one popular source.

I was surprised by how meaty these were compared to what I have eaten in Louisiana.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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