Market Name: Crawfish, crayfish
Scientific Name: Procambarus clarkii, P. zonangulus
Common Name: Crawdad, red swamp crayfish, mudbug, crayfish
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Medium

Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans that resemble miniature lobsters, ranging in size from 3 1/2 to 7 inches. Over 400 species are found worldwide, 250 of which are in North America, living in rivers, lakes, swamps, canals, wetlands and irrigation ditches. The most important farmed U.S. species is red swamp crawfish (Procambarus clarkii), found in southern Louisiana. Second is the white-river crawfish (P. acutus) from northern Louisiana. Approximately 90 percent of the U.S. farmed and wild crawfish production comes from Louisiana, where crawfish are trapped in the wild and farmed as a rotating crop with rice. Crawfish are also farmed and harvested wild in other southern states and in the Pacific Northwest. In China, crawfish are cultivated in ponds with other fish. In California, fishermen trap coolwater crawfish in rivers that feed the Sacramento Delta. Fishermen in the Midwest trap the species in lakes. Limited amounts are farmed in Europe.

Product Profile:
Crawfish meat is sweet like lobster meat but more tender and not quite as rich. Alive, red swamp crawfish are red to nearly black; white-river crawfish are light to dark brown. All crawfish cook up brilliant red. Raw meat is grayish in color. Cooked meat should be a clean white. Softshell crawfish are those that have just molted. Make sure live product is indeed alive before cooking. As with lobster, the meat deteriorates rapidly after death. Crawfish fat, sometimes called head fat, is yellow and contains most of the flavor. It can be purchased as a separate product. Removing it from crawfish meat improves the shelf life.

You Should Know:
Labels should distinguish between farm-raised and wild-run crawfish and include the state (even the river) of origin. Fresh, whole, cooked, ready-to-serve crawfish is quite perishable and should be used quickly.

Cooking Tips:
For a classic preparation, boil in spicy Cajun or Creole seasonings or use Scandinavian dill seasonings. Jambalaya, bisque and etouffeé are traditional presentations. Use only live, clean crawfish. Cook immediately by dropping into boiling water. Keep them cold until ready to cook. Live crawfish should splay their claws when grabbed. If an animal is limp or its tail doesn’t curl when cooked, toss it.

Cooking Methods: Boil,Saute',Steam

Substitutions: Shrimp, Lobster

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Whole, cooked, Softshell, Tail meat (with or without “fat”)
Frozen: Whole, cooked Shell-on tails, Tail meat (cooked/un cooked, with or without “fat”)
Value-Added: Marinated, spiced whole-shell Marinated, spiced tail meat Frozen entrées

Global Supply: