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Live Crawfish, Crayfish or Mudbugs ~ Cooking Crawfish in Crawfish Season

Updated on December 4, 2017
Peggy W profile image

My husband and I are what could be called "foodies." We enjoy sampling and discovering new & different foods from all areas of the world.

A heaping platter of cooked crawfish.
A heaping platter of cooked crawfish. | Source

Crawfish

In the Spring of each year aficionados of live crawfish, also called crayfish, crawdads or even mudbugs start flocking to restaurants where they are cooking crawfish once crawfish season has begun.

My husband and a friend and I recently went to a Chinese buffet restaurant in Houston, Texas that featured seafood among their offerings.

Every time a large batch of freshly boiled crawfish was brought out, it literally only took a few minutes of time for that large pan to be emptied by ravenous patrons eager to sample these delicacies.

Several restaurant patrons nicely allowed me to take a couple of pictures of a freshly delivered batch before they dug into that pile of cooked crawfish piling their plates high with these tasty freshwater crustaceans.

Crawfish Season

While crayfish can be found living in freshwater year round in almost all places around the globe, their shells are not as soft as they are in the Spring of the year from about March until June.

The softer shells makes it easier for people to eat them.

Cooking Crawfish

Crawfish generally grow to be about 4 inches (10 cm) in length although there are exceptions with some getting much larger. It literally takes a mound of crawfish to make a meal because only the small amount of tail meat is what is commonly eaten. Some people also suck the fatty portions from the head of the animal which absorbs some of the flavorings from the pots boiling mixture.

Flavorings added to the large pots of boiling water differ depending upon local preferences. In the South Cajun seasonings tend to be spicy and might include such things as cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce, bay leaves, lemons, garlic, onions and even some sausage, corn and potatoes.

Some of the same flavorings for boiling shrimp can also be used when boiling crayfish. It is all a matter of personal taste.

Crayfish Farming

Most of the farmed crayfish come from areas in Louisiana where marshy areas also support the growing of rice. In fact the greatest percentage of crayfish arriving in restaurants all across America come from the State of Louisiana.

Crawfish Chimneys

Built by mudbugs, aka crawfish, crayfish or crawdads.
Built by mudbugs, aka crawfish, crayfish or crawdads. | Source

Mudbugs

I was under the false impression that crawfish built their mud based tunnels (also known as chimneys) above ground when we had rainy weather. I seem to spot more of them at that time when walking our greenbelt area.

But from reading several articles including one from the Smithsonian Institution, it appears that crayfish build them when water is scarce...just the opposite of what I had believed. The females also lay their eggs in these chimneys returning to their regular habitats when water levels return to normal.

More evidence of crawfish activity.
More evidence of crawfish activity. | Source

They are quite the little home builders! Crawfish also create tunnels beneath the ground. Photos taken on one of our walks show the appearance of what these temporary "homes" look like. They must all attend the same architecture school!

Perhaps their use of mud in constructing those chimneys is how crawfish also became known as mudbugs!

Opening to crawfish tunnel.
Opening to crawfish tunnel. | Source

Catching Crawfish

While walking along our greenbelt area in our subdivision we often see kids fishing for crawfish down in the ditch where excess water is directed. Obviously with a little patience they typically are rewarded for their efforts.

This is the same greenbelt area that is festooned with masses of wildflowers each Spring and into the Summer months. Birds, turtles and dragonflies also call the greenbelt home.

Once when we lived in our old subdivision and were walking our dogs, we came upon a lone crawfish in the middle of the sidewalk. He had his claws up and threatened us as we approached him. This little 4 inch crustacean that looked like a mini lobster acted like a gladiator readied for battle!

We honored his temporary sidewalk space and cut a wide swath around him. Where he came from or where he went after we proceeded on our walk was unknown to us. Suffice it to say that crayfish coexist with those of us who share spaces where there are creeks, rivers, swampy areas, ditches with water and other aquatic locales.

These crustaceans from the superfamily known as Astacoidea and Paraastacoidea have been around for millions of years and will probably exist for millions of years into the future if our fresh waters do not become too polluted.

Photo of Crawfish

Source

Now you perhaps know a bit more about the live crustaceans named crawfish, crawdads, crayfish and also mudbugs.

There are over 600 species worldwide!

Whether you are on the lookout to catch your own crawfish or merely wanted to know more about cooking crawfish, I hope you enjoyed this article.

Do you like eating crawfish?

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The State Where Most Crawfish Are Farmed And Shipped To Other Locations

A markerLouisiana -
Louisiana, USA
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Where most crawfish are commercially farmed.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

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    • Peggy W profile image
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      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hello Brenno,

      That is true and many people just dump the cooked crawfish, corn on the cob and cooked potatoes which are often cooked with it onto a table covered with newspaper. It can be a casual feast! Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      Brenno 4 years ago

      Thank you! If you want to get really autnihtec you can even forgot the flats or plates and just lay down some newpaper on the table and dump the crawfish straight on the table . :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jamie,

      Glad that this hub could bring back happy memories for you of those crawfish boils and gatherings. :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Brett,

      Nice that you not only know what they are but have tasted cooked crawfish as well. Thanks for the pin and shares.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi moonlake,

      They certainly are delicious to eat when in season. Thanks!

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 4 years ago from Reno NV

      When I lived in Louisiana I spent a lot of time at crawfish boils with pounds of crawfish sitting on picnic benches. Thank you for bringing back such great culinary memories. Jamie

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 4 years ago from Thailand

      You know, I had never even heard of these until a Thai New Year festival (April 13th I believe). Some fishermen were having a great ol' time drinking and eating in town, they saw a couple of western looking people and excitedly invited us to join them. The craw fish were delicious. Nice hub.

      Shared, pinned, tweeted, UAI

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 4 years ago from America

      Very interesting I love crawfish. You made me hungry. Voted up and shared.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Rajan,

      Crawfish look a bit like a mini lobster and have a bit of the same flavor...slightly sweet. Most of what is eaten are the small tail sections minus the outer shell and some people suck the juices from the head section. One ends up with a mound of shells because the meat from the crawfish is really small. It is similar in size to a very tiny shrimp. Thanks for your votes and the pin.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Peggy, this is a very informative and interesting read as I have never seen a crawfish let alone eating it. I don't think we get them here.

      I wonder about the taste though!

      Voted up, interesting and pinned.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Thelma,

      Crawfish are delicious eaten that way. Just last year I decided to try sucking the juice out of the heads and found it to be delicious. One needs plenty of napkins because eating them is a messy but scrumptious affair. Thanks for your comment, vote and the share.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 5 years ago from Germany

      OMG! I feel hungry now. I love eating crawfish with garlic and butter. Yummy! Thank you for sharing this very informative hub. Voted up and shared.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Linda Bliss,

      No, I have not heard about the Swedish Crawfish festivals until now...but they sound like fun! Thanks for your comment, vote and the sharing of this hub all about crawfish. Appreciate it. Maybe you should write a hub about your experiences!

    • Linda Bliss profile image

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      Hi Peggy! Have you ever heard of the Swedish Crayfish festival? Every August, when the Crayfish season starts in Sweden, the Swedes throw the best ever parties with crayfish as the main meal, accompanied by lots of other side dishes, vodka and traditional drinking songs? There are even special Crayfish party lanterns and table decorations :-)

      I'm not a big crayfish fan myself, but your excellent hub brought back some memories of midnight crayfishing and parties that lasted into the night in southern Sweden. Voted up and shared :-)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi susannah,

      Well, one thing is certain. It is a LOT more work to ferret out that tail meat from a crawfish than a lobster given the size difference. I think lobster is a sweeter tasting flesh. Thanks for the comment.

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      I don't like them as much as lobster even though they say they are similar.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Om,

      Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed eating crawfish for the first time. Think I'll have to go back to our buffet place soon and get a plateful of them. :-)

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

      Hey, Peggy! Just want to tell you I just ate crawfish for the very first time today at a buffet restaurant and I loved them! =D

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi TurtleDog,

      We'll have to go back to that Chinese buffet soon and get a plate of crawfish. I'll be brave and suck from the head portion next time! Eating cooked crawfish by the pound would be no problem as the actual tail meat is small. It is no wonder that those trays in the buffet empty out almost as soon as they are replenished! Glad you liked this hub and thanks for the comment. Happy fishing!

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 6 years ago

      Thanks for this fun hub. I'll have to try catching my own next time I go fishing. Great vid you attached!

      I ate crawfish by what felt like the pound last time I was in New Orleans. Really delicious. Definitely need to suck the head of this delicious critter to experience the full flavor. Thanks again!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Hello, hello,

      Glad that you enjoyed this hub about crawfish, cooking crawfish and crawfish season. Have you ever eaten crawfish?

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Om Paramapoonya,

      It is quite a production eating cooked crawfish and one ends up with a huge mound of shells and carcasses at the end. If you are going to indulge in eating crawfish, be sure and have some wet wipes to help clean your hands at the end. Crawfish season is a big deal and lots of cooking crawfish is done at this time of year. Hope you get to taste some soon. Thanks for the votes and comment.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a lovely and interesting hub to read.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

      I don't think I've ever eaten crawfish. Now you got me very interested. The girl in the first video makes eating crawfish seem so complicated but fun at the same time. lol Rated up and awesome. :)

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi dahoglund,

      If there are any French restaurants in Milwaukee or some of the larger cities like Minneapolis, etc., they are likely to be serving things like crawfish etouffee. Not sure about Wisconsin Rapids (because of the size) but we can find frozen crawfish tails here in our grocery stores for use in recipes. Of course since it is crawfish season right now, there are live ones available for purchase in most of the stores.

      To me is is a bit like a shrimp taste...depending upon the spices used when boiling them. Lots more work however than peeling shrimp!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Never have.I don't even know if they have them in Wisconsin. Probably some in the Quad-citiess which have a more southern culture.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Simone,

      So happy to hear that you liked this crawfish hub. I'm with you on not liking to see eyes on a plate. I love eating fish and shrimp and the occasional crayfish...but prefer that they are headless. Thanks for your comment.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi dahoglund,

      Haha! I can see where you think that. The kids trying to catch the crawfish in our neighborhood generally use nets after poking around in the water with sticks. Have you ever eaten crayfish, crawdads or whatever they call them in your neck of the woods?

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Whaaaaaaaaaah! This is so cool! GREAT Hub! The photos, map, videos.... just... WOW! I don't have much of a taste for anything that has eyes, but I STILL really enjoyed reading. Voted up!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 6 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Whenever I hear mention of crawfish,crawdads etc, it puts me in mind of Jimmie Rodgers and some old country songs"..you get a line and I'll get a pole.."

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Prasetio,

      So glad to know that you learned a bit about live crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs or crawdads...whatever people choose to call them. It is crawfish season now and lots of restaurants are cooking crawfish. Our subdivision is even having a crawfish cookout at our community center this weekend for people who wish to attend. Thanks for your comment and vote.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Wow...this was so beautiful. You have done a great job here. Thanks for share with us. I really enjoy all informations here, stunning pictures and also the video useful for us. I learn much from you. Rated Up!

      Love and peace,

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Gene,

      Since this is crawfish season, maybe you'll hit another buffet or two with more crawfish offerings. Safe travels and enjoy your vacation! Thanks for your comment. Appreciate it!

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Pamela,

      I think that I have only eaten boiled crawfish once but have eaten the already peeled kind in other ways like crawfish etouffee served over rice. One ends up with a mound of carcasses to get at that little bit of tasty tail meat! Thanks for your comment and vote up.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi agusfanani,

      The water level is so high where we live in Houston...not that much above sea level. So crawfish are commonly seen in these parts. Obviously most of them that end up in restaurants are farm raised like those in your part of the world. Glad that I could show you what their chimneys look like. Thanks for the comment.

    • profile image

      Gene Jasper 6 years ago

      Peggy, very timely, as we're on our way to Florida and spent the night in Shreveport where the buffet featured Crawfish. They were delicious.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 6 years ago from United States

      I had crawfish once in New Orleans and liked them. This is a fantastic hub, very thorough and the pictures are great! Rated up.

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 6 years ago from Indonesia

      Crawfish is very tasty, I think it's more or less like how lobster tastes. Many people here breed and raise crawfish in freshwater tanks so that we call it freshwater lobster.I didn't know that it lives inside holes and make chimneys, wow amazing !. Thank you Peggy W.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Cheryl,

      Crawfish, crayfish, mudbugs or crawdads as they are known are certainly appreciated for their taste. There are many different recipes in how to use them and since crawfish season is in full swing right now, people are certainly enjoying them. I agree with you that eating boiled crawfish is something that people should try at least once. Lots of work...but tasty results! Thanks for your comment.

    • Cheryl J. profile image

      Cheryl J. 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      A great hub page on Live Crawfish or Mudbugs. You are correct as soon as the crawfish season arrives, everyone is excited about eating boiled crawfish. I think everyone should try boiled crawfish at least once. Thanks for sharing the nice photos and videos.

    • Peggy W profile image
      Author

      Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Jeff,

      I'll bet that whoever catches the "crawdads" or crayfish eating them alive and getting sick from it learns their lesson! Cooking crayfish is the smarter way to go for sure. Thanks for the first comment.

    • Jeff May profile image

      Jeffrey Penn May 6 years ago from St. Louis

      In Missouri, we call them "crawdads," and occasionally someone will get drunk, catch them barehanded from the amber stoned bottom of a crystal clear Ozark steam, and eat them alive, ingesting deadly bacteria.