Recipe: A Crayfish Party

I’m going to share this family secret with you, a dead easy yet theatrical recipe that creates theatre in your own home.

Crayfish (or crawfish) are absolute taste gems. They need little cooking, you just twist off the head, crack the tail and unearth a taste sensation by dunking and eating the tails. They can be hard to come by fresh so if you go to IKEA, yes, IKEA! They sell a 1kg box of frozen crayfish that are sublime, I promise you they are worth picking up the next time you’re buying a flat pack. Just defrost them and then rinse them thoroughly under cold water before adding them to the cooking liquor below.

(serves 4 as a sharing starter)


1kg of freshwater crayfish
80g salted butter
Crusty bread to serve

for the cooking liquor;
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp allspice
2 tbsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried oregano
1tbsp salt
1 tbsp mustard powder
6 bay leaves
2 onions, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
5 sticks of celery, roughly chopped


To make the cooking liquor place 2 litres of cold water in a large deep pan large enough to hold all of the crayfish. Add all of the liquor ingredients. Turn the heat to high and bring to the boil, turn the heat down to a simmer and allow it to simmer for 3 hours on a low heat. (at this stage you can allow the broth to cool and reheat when needed)

When you ready to serve, bring the cooking liquor to a gentle boil and throw in all of the crayfish. Allow them to warm through for 5 minutes and then drain all of the cooking liquor into a bowl leaving the crayfish behind. Pop a lid on to keep them warm. Ladel half of the cooking liquor into a clean saucepan and boil it rigorously to reduce it’s volume by 50%. Whisk in the butter and then serve this as a dipping sauce.

To serve the crayfish line the centre of a dining table with plenty of old newspaper or greaseproof paper and then empty the crayfish from the cooking pot into a big pile in front of your guests. Serve with the sauce and crusty bread.


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