We felt it was time for yet another meet-and-greet with some of our fine specialty seafoods. This article is going to focus upon Crawfish and Langostinos, two delicious yet relatively obscure shellfish varieties that we provide at our Old Saybrook, CT seafood market.
A small shellfish of many monikers, the crawfish are also called crayfish, yabbies, crawdad, and mudbugs. Like their cousin the lobster, crawfish are decapod (ten-limbed) crustaceans. Unlike lobsters, nearly all crawfish live in freshwater rather than populating the seas. They have many natural predators and consequently, they prefer to live in brooks and streams with fast running water and several rocks and caverns to hide in. They are an omnivorous species yet are quite delicate, with few of them being able to survive in polluted waters.
Because they’re so popular with predators, crawfish are often used as live bait by anglers hoping to reel in catfish, largemouth bass, pike, and muskellunge.1 They are a species that has been existence for a very long time, with fossils dating back over 30 million years to verify this claim. Despite their long-lived existence as a species, individual crawfish have relatively short lifespans, with few of them living past 3 years of age.
In regard to their appearance, crawfish look somewhat like little lobsters, usually being around 3 inches in length at maturity. They can vary quite a bit in their (pre-cooked) color, but like lobsters, when cooked up they take on that familiar bright red color. Due to their small size, they are most commonly eaten using the fingers when served whole2. Their other culinary uses largely consist of being employed in soups and bisques, as well as in etouffe, which we’ll touch on a bit more later on. Louisiana is the biggest supplier in the United States and in the whole world for that matter, accounting for more than 70% of the crawfish eaten worldwide. While they are most common in Louisiana, they are also found in Mississippi, Kentucky, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.2
Langostinos have a name that is a matter of some dispute, as its meaning changes based upon where it is being said. Here in the United States, a langostino is an alternate name for the Squat Lobster. The name game continues to become more intricate when one considers the fact that a Squat Lobster is not a true lobster but rather is more closely related to the hermit crab.
To get even more specific, in order to qualify as a langostino, the specimen in question must be no longer than 3 inches in length and no heavier than 7 ounces in weight.3. This relatively unknown shellfish achieved its 15 minutes of fame back in 2006 when famous restaurant chains Long John Silvers and Rubio’s Fresh Mexican grill briefly found themselves in some hot water for the use of the term “langostino lobster” in some of the products on their menus. Enraged lobster advocates (yeah, that’s a real thing) attempted to bring a lawsuit as a result of this but the case was dismissed with no wrongdoing having been ruled. In defense of the restaurants, langostino is the Spanish word for “little lobster”, so you can see where the confusion would arise.
In response to these events, the Maine Lobster Promotion Council petitioned the FDA to disallow restaurants from using the phrase “langostino lobster” in 2007.4 They expressed their belief that the term was misleading and that it would prove to be a detriment to the lobster industry. As of yet, the FDA has neither outright granted or denied this request.
When it comes to taste, langostinos are quite hard to distinguish from lobster for all except the most sophisticated of palates. (Some people feel that there is a very vague scallop-like flavor to this name-troubled shellfish.) While true lobsters and langostinos taste very similar, they are different in texture, with langostinos featuring a texture that is more reminiscent of shrimp than that of lobster.
Now, as Emeril Lagasse would say, we’re going to kick it up a few notches by way of sharing his recipe for Crawfish Etouffe with you. This recipe takes about 40 minutes to make, between preparation and cooking time.
Here’s what you’ll need: 1 lb of peeled crawfish tales, 1 cup of water, 1 stick of butter, 1 tsp salt, 2 cups of chopped onions, 1 tbsp flour, 1 cup chopped celery, 2 bay leaves, 1/2 chopped green bell pepper, 3 tbsp chopped green onions, 2 finely chopped parsely, 2 tsp minced garlic, and one small pinch of cayenne pepper powder.5
Directions: 1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saute pan.
2. Add the onions, celery, and chopped peppers and cook until the vegetables become soft and flaky (this will take 10-12 minutes)
3. Next, add in the crawfish meat, garlic, and bay leaves, and change the heat level to medium and then cook for another 10-12 minutes.
4. Dissolve the flour in the water and add it to the mixture and then stir everything together until it becomes thick.
5. Add in the salt and cayenne powder and stir well. After this, add in the parsley and green onions and cook for two more minutes.5
6. Serve over rice, eat, and enjoy!
1. Author Unavailable
2. Author Unavailable
The Crayfish Corner
3. Author Unavailable
4. Schmidt, Catherine
No Matter What You Call it, “Squat” isn’t Lobster
Wild Catch Magazine February, 2007
5. Author Unavailable