Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Crayfish--Freshwater Seafood

I know the scientific names of most every plant that we eat. But all I know about these critters is that they taste good. Our housemate, Tifin, harvests them by trap in Caspian Lake in northern Vermont. She says that the crayfish are not native there and that they have altered the lake ecosystem dramatically, causing some species to go extinct and others to swell in number. She brought us a Tupperware full of little red crustaceans. Like lobsters, their red color is a sign that they have already been cooked.

She taught us the way to pull off the tail so that we would get the meat most easily. It took a few tries, but both Ooga and I got the hang of it. They are dressed almost identically to the lobsters my parents would cook on New Year's Eve when I was a kid: a slit down the tail, clean out the organs, break the shell (exoskeleton) to get the meat inside. The main difference is that these guys are so small that much of the meat that I dig out is not economical to get. It feels like a waste to throw edible stuff into the compost, but it doesn't really make sense to spend hours scraping tiny scraps into the bowl. So we stick to two parts: the tails and the claws of the biggest individuals. After pulling the tails off and slitting them open, we clean off the yellow organ which Tifin says accumulate toxins like a liver. The lake is probably clean, but we figured not to eat the stuff anyway. Next we split the top half of the tail from the bottom to reveal a long thin vein which is not really a vein at all. It's the colon. It's edible and probably not unhealthy to eat, but I agreed with Tifin that there is something disconcerting about eat a . . . well, you get the idea. When all is done, we got about 100 g of meat for about 20 minutes worth of work between the three of us. Tifin's experienced hands did the lion's share of the work. Ooga and I asked for pointers. We all had a good time.

Tifin adds mayonnaise to the meat to make a salad which she spreads on bread for sandwiches, but Ooga and I ate them like shrimp with toothpicks and cocktail sauce. They tasted like shrimp but milder and softer. Tifin was hoping for a 5 rating. I give it a 5 too, but Ooga gave it a 4. No matter the rating, I bet that our Stone Age ancestors would be delighted with this catch-- as were we.

1 comment:

  1. i thought those little suckers were edible.... i've just never seen them prepared! thanks for the pointers!