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Free dinner! George Monbiot shows how to catch and prepare American crayfish.
September 30, 2009 4:13 AM   Subscribe

The native British white-clawed crayfish is threatened by extinction from the signal crayfish. Today's Guardian features George Monbiot with one approach to the problem: how to catch and prepare signal crayfish, the brash American cousin. Nice use of recycled materials and beer, but needs more paella recipes.
posted by handee (28 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mmmm, delicious crawfish. Mudbugs.

He cooks them in step 8, but there's no recipe. It's all in the spices, but please don't forget to toss in whole bulbs of garlic, ears of corn, and new potatoes. These absorb the flavors during the boil.

Grab a cold one and spread newspaper out on a picnic table. Dump the freshly boiled crawfish in the middle of the table for everyone. Peel, eat, suck, repeat.

It's a social event. I've never heard of anyone cooking crawfish for less than a party of 10, but I suppose you could. It's the South's version of the clam bake or pig roast.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:26 AM on September 30, 2009


Those are huge crayfish. Are those from out West? They don't look like the kind you find on the East coast of the United States.
posted by dortmunder at 4:30 AM on September 30, 2009


They're from England.
posted by molecicco at 4:31 AM on September 30, 2009


They're only from England in the sense that that's where they were caught. They're not native, and are an invasive species imported from the western US.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:42 AM on September 30, 2009


I bet they're good with grey squirrel (another invasive species pushing out a native species).
posted by pracowity at 4:43 AM on September 30, 2009


What, no drinking from the skull of a dead American?
posted by fleacircus at 5:00 AM on September 30, 2009


He left out sucking the head!
posted by TedW at 5:04 AM on September 30, 2009



I bet they're good with grey squirrel (another invasive species pushing out a native species).


Kill the grey squirrels.

"I wouldn't call myself a grey squirrel terminator, but a true friend and guardian of red squirrels. As I kill each grey I think 'that's another red I have saved',"
posted by atrazine at 5:15 AM on September 30, 2009


As a Cajun, this is the first time I'm envious of British cuisine. Those suckers are HUGE!
posted by shecky57 at 5:45 AM on September 30, 2009


As a kid we used to run along the very small creeks in my Ft Worth-area neighborhood and catch these things. I've never understood how such a creature, a mini-lobster, came to live so deep in Texas in creeks that sometime have very little water. I always envisioned them being left here when the sea pulled back.
posted by punkfloyd at 5:50 AM on September 30, 2009


What do they eat when there is no crawdad to be found?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:59 AM on September 30, 2009


In one of those brilliant twists of bureaucracy that we Brits are so good at, I believe that you need a licence to catch signal crayfish.

But if you do accidently, unintentionally catch one, it is illegal to put them back in the water.
posted by Helga-woo at 6:29 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


What do they eat when there is no crawdad to be found?

Crawmom.
posted by pracowity at 6:32 AM on September 30, 2009


That's it! I am getting an old tire. I got gumbo to make. In the name of the white clawed something or other... of course.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:32 AM on September 30, 2009



In one of those brilliant twists of bureaucracy that we Brits are so good at, I believe that you need a licence to catch signal crayfish.

But if you do accidently, unintentionally catch one, it is illegal to put them back in the water.


Is this true? <- This is an honest question.

If it is, I would love to hear someone using the Guardian crayfishing method explaining to a police officer that they were just testing the viability of aqueous bicycle-wheel preservation of chicken carcass and felt that safest way to dispose of the unfortunate resultant toxic waste product was to have paella.
posted by voronoi at 6:36 AM on September 30, 2009


I think it's to make sure that you don't go fishing in the (few) places where the native white crayfish remain.

A quick trawl of fishing forums in the UK suggests that licences are free & given out to anyone that asks. Some details from the Environment Agency.

The odds on you being caught using a single trap for lunch seem fairly long though.
posted by pharm at 6:55 AM on September 30, 2009


I used to keep a mental list of aggressive American intruder species causing anarchy in the UK. But now there's no need, thanks to a beautiful little book entitled Alien Invaders: A Guide to Non-Native Species of the Britisher Isles.
posted by GeorgeBickham at 6:59 AM on September 30, 2009


I've been to dozens of boils and eaten hundreds of crawfish, many wild-caught from the Mississippi (N America's urethra) and no one ever mentioned a gut. You just eat em. Enjoy the silver lining UK, kudzu is not nearly so delicious.
posted by vapidave at 7:15 AM on September 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure all the stuff with the bike wheel is really necessary - I've seen a video of someone pulling out dozens of these with just a sheep's head on a string.

And then if the authorities came along you could just compain that the litle beggars had eaten Flipper, your swimming sheep.
posted by Phanx at 7:50 AM on September 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Those are huge crayfish. Are those from out West? They don't look like the kind you find on the East coast of the United States.
posted by dortmunder at 7:30 AM


The East Coast has native Orconectes limosus, but is experiencing it's own crayfish invasion by Procambarus clarkii, introduced from Southern states. You'll probably see more of the invaders as summers get longer and water temperatures increase.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:26 AM on September 30, 2009


I'm not sure all the stuff with the bike wheel is really necessary - I've seen a video of someone pulling out dozens of these with just a sheep's head on a string.

I can't tell you how delighted I am by the word "just" in this sentence.

"All you need here is just a standard sheep-head-on-a-string. You know, like any of us have in our garages, next to our nightstands, floating in the toilet-tank, or in our baby's cribs. Just grab one of the ten to twenty sheep-heads-on-a-string from someplace around your house, lower it into the water, and voila! Crawfish! Yet another everyday use for your average sheep-head-on-a-string."
posted by Greg Nog at 10:14 AM on September 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


Sheep's head or sheepshead?
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:58 AM on September 30, 2009



The East Coast has native Orconectes limosus, but is experiencing it's own crayfish invasion by Procambarus clarkii, introduced from Southern states. You'll probably see more of the invaders as summers get longer and water temperatures increase.

Orconectes limosus are the ones I think of when I think of crayfish. Who knew there were so many species?
posted by dortmunder at 11:47 AM on September 30, 2009


Dude, those look DELICIOUS.
posted by BobFrapples at 2:30 PM on September 30, 2009


You know, like any of us have in our garages, next to our nightstands, floating in the toilet-tank, or in our baby's cribs. Just grab one of the ten to twenty sheep-heads-on-a-string from someplace around your house, lower it into the water, and voila! Crawfish! Yet another everyday use for your average sheep-head-on-a-string."

I bet you that every high street butcher in England has some of these they would let you have for a pittance. It's a bit of a different world from America. The butcher near my place routinely has feathered birds hanging outside.

I saw about 20 people crab fishing off a pier in Conwy in Wales and they all had full buckets of crabs just using small scraps of fish on a fish line. Each cast would result in about 3 or 4 crabs hanging onto the scrap of fish meat.

I'm pretty sure the net isn't needed. It's just more efficient.
posted by srboisvert at 2:38 PM on September 30, 2009


I've always thought about having a crawdad as a pet, since seeing one or two in a tank at the Exploratorium in SF. Either that or a Mantis Shrimp too.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:54 PM on September 30, 2009


Just grab one of the ten to twenty sheep-heads-on-a-string from someplace around your house

Yeah, I'm not the tidiest of people.
posted by Phanx at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


OMG, I am hungry. Those are huge. Not like any I ever caught goofing off as a kid, in Michigan.
posted by Goofyy at 5:17 AM on October 2, 2009


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