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Crayfish

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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.

Left: Boiled crayfish, Louisiana.

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.

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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 Marengo.

Left: 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.

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