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Live Crawfish, Crayfish or Mudbugs: Cooking Crawfish When in Season

My husband and I both enjoy cooking. We like sampling and discovering new and different foods from all areas of the world.

A heaping platter of cooked crawfish.

A heaping platter of cooked crawfish.

Crawfish Season

In the springtime, food lovers of eating crawfish, also known as crayfish, crawdads, or even mudbugs, start flocking to restaurants where they are cooking these crustaceans once crawfish season has begun.

Crayfish live in freshwater year-round in almost all places worldwide, but their shells are not as soft as they are in the spring of the year, from about March until June. It makes it easier for people to eat them.

My husband and a friend and I recently went to a Chinese buffet restaurant in Houston, Texas, that featured seafood among their offerings. Each time servers delivered a large batch of freshly boiled crawfish to the buffet table, in only a few minutes, ravenous patrons eager to sample these delicacies would empty the large pan.

Several restaurant patrons nicely allowed me to take a couple of pictures of a freshly delivered batch before they dug into that pile of cooked crawfish piling their plates high with these tasty freshwater crustaceans.

Photo of Crawfish

Photo of Crawfish

Cooking Crawfish

Crawfish generally grow to be about 4 inches (10 cm) in length, although there are exceptions, with some getting much larger. It takes a large amount of cooked crawfish to make a meal. That is because most people usually eat only the tail meat. Some people also suck the fatty portions from the head. The head absorbs some of the flavorings from the pot's boiling mixture.

Plan on serving several pounds of these beauties if using as an appetizer. If serving as a main meal, plan five or more pounds per person as a rule of thumb.

Flavorings added to the large pots of boiling water differ depending upon local preferences. In the South, Cajun seasonings tend to be spicy. The ingredients might include some of the following: cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, bay leaves, lemons, garlic, onions, and even some sausage, corn, and potatoes. Some of the same flavorings for boiling shrimp can be put to use when boiling crayfish. It is all a matter of personal taste.

Purchase live crawfish when possible, and wash them, removing any dirt and grit. Boil the other vegetables like potatoes and corn until tender. Once you add the cleaned crawfish to the pot, heat it back up to a boil and only boil for two minutes. Do not overcook!

As you can see from the photos below, get-togethers with picnics are fun when eating these flavorful foods. Be sure to have plenty of wet wipes. Finger foods can get messy!

Crayfish Farming

Most of the farmed crayfish come from areas in Louisiana where marshy areas also support rice growth. The vast percentage of crayfish arriving in restaurants all across America come from the State of Louisiana.

These crustaceans from the superfamily known as Astacoidea and Paraastacoidea have been around for millions of years. They will probably exist for millions of years into the future if our fresh waters do not become too polluted.

There are over 600 species worldwide!

 Crawfish Farming - Acadia Parish Louisiana

Crawfish Farming - Acadia Parish Louisiana

Crawfish Chimneys

I was under the false impression that crawfish built their mud-based tunnels (also known as chimneys) above ground when we had rainy weather. I seem to spot more of them at that time when walking our greenbelt area.

But from reading several articles, including one from the Smithsonian Institution, it appears that crayfish build them when water is scarce, just the opposite of what I had believed. The females also lay their eggs in these chimneys returning to their regular habitats when water levels return to normal.

They are quite the home builders! Crawfish also create tunnels beneath the ground. Photos taken on one of our walks show the appearance of these temporary homes. They must all attend the same architecture school! Perhaps their use of mud in constructing those chimneys is how crawfish also became known as mudbugs!

Catching Crawfish

While walking along our greenbelt area in our subdivision, we often see kids fishing for crawfish down in the ditch where there is excess water. Obviously, with some patience, they typically are rewarded for their efforts. This same greenbelt area is covered with masses of wildflowers each spring and into the summer months. Birds, turtles, and dragonflies also call the greenbelt home.

One time in our old subdivision, when we were walking our dogs, we came upon a lone crawfish in the middle of the sidewalk. It had its claws up and threatened us as we approached. This tiny 4-inch crustacean that looked like a mini lobster acted as a gladiator readied for battle!

We honored his temporary sidewalk space and cut a wide swath around him. Where he came from or where he went after we proceeded on our walk was unknown to us. Suffice it to say that crayfish coexist with those of us who share spaces where there are creeks, rivers, swampy areas, ditches with water, and other aquatic locales.

Sometimes, instead of eating the crayfish, they are caught to use as bait in catching other fish. In other cases, some people enjoy their use as aquarium pets.

The State Where Most Crawfish Are Farmed And Shipped To Other Locations

Sources:

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 19, 2021:

Hi Dennis,

That meal, with every course including crawfish, must have been an experience to remember! It sounds like fun.

Dennis on March 18, 2021:

While visiting in South Carolina once, our group was treated to a total crawfish dinner. Every course, except dessert, contained crawfish. It was a fine dining experience.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2021:

Hi Devika,

If you enjoy eating shrimp, you would probably like to eat crawfish. That tail meat can be used in many recipes. Thanks for your comment.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 17, 2021:

Peggy I have not eaten Crawfish but do like eating other seafood. Sounds good and worth the try.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 16, 2021:

Hi Jack,

I agree. Many people look forward to the Crawfish season each year. They can be made into many tasty dishes.

Jack on March 16, 2021:

Crawfish are a fine Southern treat. Tasty and fun to eat.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 28, 2019:

Hi Dale,

Haha! I get your point. Mudbugs does not sound as appetizing as crawfish or crayfish.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on September 28, 2019:

I gotta admit that I dont think I have ever heard of a "mud bug". It's going to need some re-branding if they ever want to sell it at the drive-thru at McDonalds.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 28, 2013:

Hello Brenno,

That is true and many people just dump the cooked crawfish, corn on the cob and cooked potatoes which are often cooked with it onto a table covered with newspaper. It can be a casual feast! Thanks for your comment.

Brenno on August 28, 2013:

Thank you! If you want to get really autnihtec you can even forgot the flats or plates and just lay down some newpaper on the table and dump the crawfish straight on the table . :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2013:

Hi Jamie,

Glad that this hub could bring back happy memories for you of those crawfish boils and gatherings. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2013:

Hi Brett,

Nice that you not only know what they are but have tasted cooked crawfish as well. Thanks for the pin and shares.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 07, 2013:

Hi moonlake,

They certainly are delicious to eat when in season. Thanks!

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on August 05, 2013:

When I lived in Louisiana I spent a lot of time at crawfish boils with pounds of crawfish sitting on picnic benches. Thank you for bringing back such great culinary memories. Jamie

Brett C from Asia on August 05, 2013:

You know, I had never even heard of these until a Thai New Year festival (April 13th I believe). Some fishermen were having a great ol' time drinking and eating in town, they saw a couple of western looking people and excitedly invited us to join them. The craw fish were delicious. Nice hub.

Shared, pinned, tweeted, UAI

moonlake from America on August 05, 2013:

Very interesting I love crawfish. You made me hungry. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 19, 2013:

Hi Rajan,

Crawfish look a bit like a mini lobster and have a bit of the same flavor...slightly sweet. Most of what is eaten are the small tail sections minus the outer shell and some people suck the juices from the head section. One ends up with a mound of shells because the meat from the crawfish is really small. It is similar in size to a very tiny shrimp. Thanks for your votes and the pin.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on May 19, 2013:

Peggy, this is a very informative and interesting read as I have never seen a crawfish let alone eating it. I don't think we get them here.

I wonder about the taste though!

Voted up, interesting and pinned.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 20, 2012:

Hi Thelma,

Crawfish are delicious eaten that way. Just last year I decided to try sucking the juice out of the heads and found it to be delicious. One needs plenty of napkins because eating them is a messy but scrumptious affair. Thanks for your comment, vote and the share.

Thelma Alberts from Germany and Philippines on October 20, 2012:

OMG! I feel hungry now. I love eating crawfish with garlic and butter. Yummy! Thank you for sharing this very informative hub. Voted up and shared.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2012:

Hi Linda Bliss,

No, I have not heard about the Swedish Crawfish festivals until now...but they sound like fun! Thanks for your comment, vote and the sharing of this hub all about crawfish. Appreciate it. Maybe you should write a hub about your experiences!

Linda Liebrand from San Francisco on April 06, 2012:

Hi Peggy! Have you ever heard of the Swedish Crayfish festival? Every August, when the Crayfish season starts in Sweden, the Swedes throw the best ever parties with crayfish as the main meal, accompanied by lots of other side dishes, vodka and traditional drinking songs? There are even special Crayfish party lanterns and table decorations :-)

I'm not a big crayfish fan myself, but your excellent hub brought back some memories of midnight crayfishing and parties that lasted into the night in southern Sweden. Voted up and shared :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 09, 2011:

Hi susannah,

Well, one thing is certain. It is a LOT more work to ferret out that tail meat from a crawfish than a lobster given the size difference. I think lobster is a sweeter tasting flesh. Thanks for the comment.

susannah42 from Florida on April 09, 2011:

I don't like them as much as lobster even though they say they are similar.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 06, 2011:

Hi Om,

Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed eating crawfish for the first time. Think I'll have to go back to our buffet place soon and get a plateful of them. :-)

Om Paramapoonya on April 06, 2011:

Hey, Peggy! Just want to tell you I just ate crawfish for the very first time today at a buffet restaurant and I loved them! =D

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 02, 2011:

Hi TurtleDog,

We'll have to go back to that Chinese buffet soon and get a plate of crawfish. I'll be brave and suck from the head portion next time! Eating cooked crawfish by the pound would be no problem as the actual tail meat is small. It is no wonder that those trays in the buffet empty out almost as soon as they are replenished! Glad you liked this hub and thanks for the comment. Happy fishing!

TurtleDog on April 02, 2011:

Thanks for this fun hub. I'll have to try catching my own next time I go fishing. Great vid you attached!

I ate crawfish by what felt like the pound last time I was in New Orleans. Really delicious. Definitely need to suck the head of this delicious critter to experience the full flavor. Thanks again!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 02, 2011:

Hi Hello, hello,

Glad that you enjoyed this hub about crawfish, cooking crawfish and crawfish season. Have you ever eaten crawfish?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 02, 2011:

Hi Om Paramapoonya,

It is quite a production eating cooked crawfish and one ends up with a huge mound of shells and carcasses at the end. If you are going to indulge in eating crawfish, be sure and have some wet wipes to help clean your hands at the end. Crawfish season is a big deal and lots of cooking crawfish is done at this time of year. Hope you get to taste some soon. Thanks for the votes and comment.

Hello, hello, from London, UK on April 02, 2011:

Thank you for a lovely and interesting hub to read.

Om Paramapoonya on April 02, 2011:

I don't think I've ever eaten crawfish. Now you got me very interested. The girl in the first video makes eating crawfish seem so complicated but fun at the same time. lol Rated up and awesome. :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 02, 2011:

Hi dahoglund,

If there are any French restaurants in Milwaukee or some of the larger cities like Minneapolis, etc., they are likely to be serving things like crawfish etouffee. Not sure about Wisconsin Rapids (because of the size) but we can find frozen crawfish tails here in our grocery stores for use in recipes. Of course since it is crawfish season right now, there are live ones available for purchase in most of the stores.

To me is is a bit like a shrimp taste...depending upon the spices used when boiling them. Lots more work however than peeling shrimp!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on April 02, 2011:

Never have.I don't even know if they have them in Wisconsin. Probably some in the Quad-citiess which have a more southern culture.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2011:

Hi Simone,

So happy to hear that you liked this crawfish hub. I'm with you on not liking to see eyes on a plate. I love eating fish and shrimp and the occasional crayfish...but prefer that they are headless. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2011:

Hi dahoglund,

Haha! I can see where you think that. The kids trying to catch the crawfish in our neighborhood generally use nets after poking around in the water with sticks. Have you ever eaten crayfish, crawdads or whatever they call them in your neck of the woods?

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 01, 2011:

Whaaaaaaaaaah! This is so cool! GREAT Hub! The photos, map, videos.... just... WOW! I don't have much of a taste for anything that has eyes, but I STILL really enjoyed reading. Voted up!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on April 01, 2011:

Whenever I hear mention of crawfish,crawdads etc, it puts me in mind of Jimmie Rodgers and some old country songs"..you get a line and I'll get a pole.."

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2011:

Hi Prasetio,

So glad to know that you learned a bit about live crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs or crawdads...whatever people choose to call them. It is crawfish season now and lots of restaurants are cooking crawfish. Our subdivision is even having a crawfish cookout at our community center this weekend for people who wish to attend. Thanks for your comment and vote.

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on April 01, 2011:

Wow...this was so beautiful. You have done a great job here. Thanks for share with us. I really enjoy all informations here, stunning pictures and also the video useful for us. I learn much from you. Rated Up!

Love and peace,

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2011:

Hi Gene,

Since this is crawfish season, maybe you'll hit another buffet or two with more crawfish offerings. Safe travels and enjoy your vacation! Thanks for your comment. Appreciate it!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2011:

Hi Pamela,

I think that I have only eaten boiled crawfish once but have eaten the already peeled kind in other ways like crawfish etouffee served over rice. One ends up with a mound of carcasses to get at that little bit of tasty tail meat! Thanks for your comment and vote up.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 01, 2011:

Hi agusfanani,

The water level is so high where we live in Houston...not that much above sea level. So crawfish are commonly seen in these parts. Obviously most of them that end up in restaurants are farm raised like those in your part of the world. Glad that I could show you what their chimneys look like. Thanks for the comment.

Gene Jasper on April 01, 2011:

Peggy, very timely, as we're on our way to Florida and spent the night in Shreveport where the buffet featured Crawfish. They were delicious.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 01, 2011:

I had crawfish once in New Orleans and liked them. This is a fantastic hub, very thorough and the pictures are great! Rated up.

agusfanani from Indonesia on April 01, 2011:

Crawfish is very tasty, I think it's more or less like how lobster tastes. Many people here breed and raise crawfish in freshwater tanks so that we call it freshwater lobster.I didn't know that it lives inside holes and make chimneys, wow amazing !. Thank you Peggy W.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2011:

Hi Cheryl,

Crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs or crawdads as they are known are certainly appreciated for their taste. There are many different recipes in how to use them and since crawfish season is in full swing right now, people are certainly enjoying them. I agree with you that eating boiled crawfish is something that people should try at least once. Lots of work...but tasty results! Thanks for your comment.

Cheryl J. from Houston, TX on March 31, 2011:

A great hub page on Live Crawfish or Mudbugs. You are correct as soon as the crawfish season arrives, everyone is excited about eating boiled crawfish. I think everyone should try boiled crawfish at least once. Thanks for sharing the nice photos and videos.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 31, 2011:

Hi Jeff,

I'll bet that whoever catches the "crawdads" or crayfish eating them alive and getting sick from it learns their lesson! Cooking crayfish is the smarter way to go for sure. Thanks for the first comment.

Jeffrey Penn May from St. Louis on March 31, 2011:

In Missouri, we call them "crawdads," and occasionally someone will get drunk, catch them barehanded from the amber stoned bottom of a crystal clear Ozark steam, and eat them alive, ingesting deadly bacteria.

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