Crayfish are eaten in Europe, China, Africa, Australia,
Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and the Caribbean. 98% of the crayfish
harvested in the United States come from Louisiana, where the standard culinary
terms are crawfish or écrevisses.
Louisiana produces 90% of the crawfish in the
world and 70% is consumed locally. 70-80% of crawfish produced in Louisiana are
red swamp crawfish with the remaining 20-30% being white river crawfish.
Louisiana crawfish are usually boiled live in a large pot with heavy seasoning
(salt, cayenne pepper, lemon, garlic, bay leaves, etc.) and other items such as
potatoes, corn on the cob, onions, garlic, mushrooms and sausage. There are many
differing methods used to season a crawfish boil and an equal number of opinions
on which one is correct. They are generally served at a gathering known as
a crawfish boil.
Other popular dishes in the Cajun and Creole cuisines of
Louisiana include crawfish
étouffée, crawfish pie, crawfish dressing, crawfish
bread, and crawfish beignets. Crayfish are also an ingredient in Chicken
Crawfish étouffée, served at a
restaurant in New Orleans.
Like other edible crustaceans, only a small portion of the
body of a crayfish is edible. In most prepared dishes, such as soups, bisques
and étouffées, only the tail portion is served. At crawfish boils or other meals
where the entire body of the crayfish is presented, however, other portions may
be eaten. Claws of larger boiled specimens are often pulled apart to access the
meat inside. Another favourite is to suck the head of the crayfish, as seasoning
and flavour can collect in the fat of the boiled interior.