I’ve bought frozen crawfish tails twice and each time, after thawing, have discovered a whole in the bag. Two things. Is this uncommon? Is it something to be concerned about? I tossed them each time as it seemed a bad risk.
I guess no one buys frozen crawfish tails. Pretty much the only way to get them in Wa.
I have recently found a source for live crawfish at Uwajimaya. they are farmed, I think in Oregon, so they have a regular supply. For this dish I didn’t want to hassle with cleaning live crawfish. I’ve never done it. Is it difficult? I imagine it’s time consuming to get 2 pounds of tail meat. Oh well, such is the life of the cook.
I feel the need to relate the rest of the story. For my 60th birthday we went to New Orleans, had a great time and the highlight was going to the Crescent City Cooking School, http://www.crescentcitycooks.com/ We made Seafood Gumbo and Crawfish Etoufee. Both were stellar and some of the best food we’d eaten on trip. I’ve made the Etoufee several times since, but never with Crawfish. So I went out of the way for this Anniversary dinner to find some.
I’m prepping all the ingredients, Onions, red and green bell peppers, celery, garlic, scallions and parsely and of course the Crawfish which are in the bag, in a bowl of water, defrosting in the sink. And yes I’m having a beer or two and maybe a glass of wine, by the time I check the Crawfish and discover the leak. I squeeze the bag to see if they’re still frozen, they weren’t, and out oozes Crawfish juice from the hole. It’s kind of orange and smells faintly fishy, but not bad fishy and I did wonder if they were still OK. Might have been, but I wasn’t taking the chance and tossed them in the garbage and starting swearing.
No way I could run to the store after a few beers, the store is 8 miles from my house. I was standing in the kitchen trying to formulate some alternate plan that would still be Etoufeeish. What’s in the fridge. I had some left over Italian chicken sausage, but hardly enough to substitute for the all the Crawfish. I dug in the freezer and found a very old bag of shrimp, likely freezer burned beyond redemption, but I started them defrosting. In the garage freezer I had some dungeness crab I’d pulled from the sea about a year ago, they were vacuum sealed and probably still good, and I started them defrosting. Maybe in 30 minutes I could start pulling out the crab meat.
At that point I decided to have more wine and my lovely wife decided the kitchen was a bad place to be and went for garden tour. She is very wise. I checked the crab after 30 minutes of soaking in water and it was still as hard as a rock. This was going to take for fuck ever. I put them in a bowl and popped’em in the microwave. Zap, check. Still frozen. Zap, check. Getting better. One more zap and it was workable. It was one whole crab, cleaned and split before sealing and after pulling it was maybe 3/4 of a cup. If the shrimp is ok this is going to work. Start peeling shrimp and after the first one I can see they are pulpy and white with freezer burn and totally worthless. This is not going to work.
Back to the garage freezer and I find a bag of chicken wings I’d vacuum sealed from a chicken I’d parted out with a date of july 2016. I realized right then that I’m pretty bad about putting stuff in the freezer and using it in a timely manner. I defrost the wings and they look pretty good. Cut of the tips, and separate the wing parts and drop them in the dutch oven. They are cooking up nicely.
I get those cooked and put aside. I cut and cook the Italian sausage and put that aside and start the Etoufee base. Roux, aromatics, stir, stir, have more wine and stir some more. Add some tomatoes, and stir some more. Scrape the bottom of the pan and stir some more…and more wine. Add chicken stock and all the meat and let it simmer while I get some rice going. 30 minutes later I add scallions and parsley and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Finally it’s time to eat.
It smells pretty damn good, we serve up, and head to the table for a bit more wine and a toast. To my dear sweet wife, who has put up with my shenanigans for 28 years, I love you. Salute’. We start to eat and it tastes pretty damn good too.
Well thank you very much. It’s a bit early as it’s in December, but appreciated none the less .
Question, where are these tails from?
It will take quite a bit of time to peel them especially if you haven’t peeled mass quantities in the past, be sure and squeeze any amount of fat from the head into the meat for flavor.
I live in Houston and am more than a bit of a crawfish snob, “they” say the Houston area eats more crawfish than the quasi country of Louisiana.
I’ve eaten frozen crawfish tails before for etoufee but only product from Louisiana and none of that Chinese junk.
Louisiana tails are available on line for about 45 bucks for two pounds. Here’s a link but I know there are other places so shop around.
Good save on the dinner! Your evening sounds like the obstacle course that happens in my kitchen on occasion.
Can’t help with experience with the frozen crawfish. I’d suggest emailing or phoning the company to determine if the hole in the bag was intentional or a defect.
" my lovely wife decided the kitchen was a bad place to be and went for garden tour. She is very wise." It’s so nice when someone knows you well enough to know just the right thing to do! Wishing you many more happy years together!
Buying on line and have them shipped is interesting, though when you add in shipping it gets up to $80 for 2lb. The ones I bought were $11 per lb, and I do I think these were from China. I’m in the Pacific Northwest and not having much choice, I can’t be too picky.
What I did learn the other day when I was at this store, Uwajimaya, they sell live, farmed crawfish, they come from Oregon. I think the next time I make this dish I’ll buy live and deal with removing the tails. Did a bit of research the other day on tail removal techniques and mostly you see people boil and then remove the tail meat, though one suggestion was to freeze them uncooked and then remove the tails. Cooking the tails in the Etoufee sounds like the best flavor, though making stock from the heads and shells will also pack a ton of flavor. In light of that, unless it was as easy to do them frozen as it is cooked, might not be worth chasing that extra flavor.
Bobs Bait Shop in Isleton CA ships live crawfish. He has a web site, if you are close to a Southwest Cargo Facility, maybe try Bobs.
Next time, just examine the bag while still frozen very well. You should be able to tell if there are any “bad” spots on the underlying product. I would guess that any holes probably occurred post-freezing and was probably safe. In fact, I would probably assume it happened in MY freezer.
I only bring this up to say that I noted frozen, Louisiana farm-raised tails at my local, (Houston) Aldi today and they were $9/12 oz.
They looked good, but I already have some I bought elsewhere.
If I were paying $80 for 2 lbs., I would substitute lobster!
Yes, burn me once shame on you, burn me twice make a pillow with a saying on it. Or something like that. I will be double checking any bags of frozen crawfish that I buy.
I’m not planning on paying $80 for 2lbs of frozen precooked crawfish, was just noting the total cost. Since Uwajimaya has live crawfish at $6.99 lb I’m going that route next time. I’ve read that you get about 3lbs from 10 lbs of live crawfish. And while the price is not that different I get all the shells for making stock which will make a kick ass crawfish flavor. And while lobster might be about the same price, it’s not the same flavor.
They don’t ship to Wa. Would also probably be more expensive than $6.99 at Uwajimaya. But thanks for the info.