Crawfish have been in fashion in the Deep South since the Cajun craze took over in the early 1980s. Prior to that, few people even knew that the crawfish were edible. Of course, the French did, they call them crayfish, or ecrevisse, and have been eating them for centuries. The species native to France are in decline, but the Louisiana Red Swamp crawfish was introduced to France after WWI and is now considered an invasive species that is doing a lot of environmental damage. The American crawfish is so prolific it can lay up to 750 eggs at a time and can reproduce nine months out of the year.
So, just how do the French eat crawfish? Crawfish bordelaise is popular, and is made with a sautéed mirepoix, butter, cream, a little cayenne and brandy. They are also served prepared as a mousse, a gratin, and grilled with garlic butter, but never, never boiled in a commercial seasoning like so many people here do.
Not only did the French introduce eating crawfish to the European settlers (certainly the First Americana’s had already figured it out), but they also taught us the basic method of quick cooking seafood in a seasoned broth. It is called court-bouillon, but pronounced “koor-boo-yawn,” by the French. Many people associate the term with a recipe that calls for red fish to be cooked in a tomato sauce, but that is a much later development.
But let’s go back for a moment to that commercial boil people are so crazy about. I am not a fan, but then I am not a fan of many prepared seasonings at all. Home made is always best, and it really doesn’t take much to come up with a recipe for boiling crawfish, or crab and shrimp for that matter.
My friend Max Lee gave me this recipe years ago and it is the best I have ever tried. It is a bit more time consuming than just adding a seasoning bag to boiling water, but I think you will like the results.