Crawfish Etouffee

In case you haven’t noticed, it’s March.  And while for some March is notable for the wonderfully diametrically opposed events of Lent and St. Patrick’s Day, for me the month heralds the beginning of crawfish season.

Crawfish, also known as crayfish and crawdads, are fresh water crustaceans related to lobsters, which they resemble.  They are found mostly in  warm climates; here, crawfish are prevalent in the southeastern United States and are considered a delicacy.  The flesh is sweet and tender, and I prefer it to shrimp.

We indulged in crawfish every spring while we lived in Texas, but here in Ohio the only way we can find them is frozen, and usually imported from Asia.  I’m generally not a fan of imported seafood, but that’s just about the only way we can get it here unless we want to limit our diet to walleye from Lake Erie or the occasional locally-caught trout, but the crawfish available at our local market was wild caught so we decided to indulge.

Frankly, we’d have preferred to make this dish with fresh crawfish, using the shells and heads for the stock, but you make do with what you have and this was quite good.  If you can get fresh – or better yet, live – crawfish, you really should make this – it’s a marvelous, and easy, recipe; the only adjustment I’d make is to increase the cooking time of the crawfish to about 10 to 12 minutes, since it needs to cook rather than merely heated (but, like shrimp, cooks quickly).

If you avoid shellfish, you can make this with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into cubes.  It won’t be quite the same, but it will still be delicious.

Crawfish Etouffee
Crawfish Etouffee
Serves: 4
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 pound frozen crawfish tails, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the crawfish, garlic, and bay leaves and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the crawfish for 7 to 10 minutes, or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Dissolve the tapioca starch in the chicken stock and stir into the crawfish mixture; season with salt and cayenne.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 2 to 4 minutes. Ladle over steamed grated cauliflower or steamed rice; garnish with the parsley and green onions and serve.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 273 calories, 14.2g total fat, 163.4mg cholesterol, 851.5mg sodium, 666.3mg potassium, 13.6g carbohydrates, 1.6g fiber, 4.4g sugar, 22.2g protein.