The Kitchen Wild: Cooking Crustaceans
Cooking up crustaceans is quickly becoming one of my very favorite go-to meals,but that doesn’t necessarily mean they all come from the ocean — I’m talking about crawdads, too!
An often overlooked activity on the Oregon coast, one that requires no fishing or shellfish license, is crawfishing. I hadn’t ever fished for crawdads until moving here to the coast but had heard that they were plentiful in the Alsea River just outside of my new hometown of Waldport.
So I asked around for advice on the best way to go about catching these little crustaceans, and the majority of people I asked told me to use cat food. I did, unfortunately with not much luck. Then my UPS driver, Aj, who was born and raised here in Waldport, suggested that I use bacon. This definitely worked a lot better than the cat food, but I love bacon a little too much to just throw it in the river. So on one of my last trips up the Alsea, I brought with me a piece of pork that unfortunately had started to go bad in my fridge before I had gotten the chance to use it, and it worked better than anything else so far!
Those little river lobsters came out in swarms to get that pork, so after several attempts, I think I’ve finally got the hang of this crawfishin’ thing, and I’m here to tell you it’s just as much fun as it is delicious.
My personal approach to crawfishing is to place a piece of raw (preferably a bit spoiled) pork securely under a rock so it doesn’t float away, but keeping just enough exposed that the crawfish can still get to it. Then you sit back and wait, but you won’t have to wait long because those little crawdads have a keen sense of smell and will begin to flock to that pork almost immediately. Be sure to have your net ready so you can scoop them right up when they do. Crawfish swim backwards, so carefully place your net right behind their tail, and they should swim directly into it. Be sure to have a bucket or cooler handy to keep those crawdads secure in after you’ve caught them.
The Oregon limit on crawdads, crawfish, crayfish, river lobsters or whatever else you might call these guys is 100, so that’s more than enough for a tasty meal. On my way home from the river that day with my crawdads securely fastened in a bucket of water in the front seat of my car, I swung into Ray’s Food Place for some red potatoes, corn on the cob and kielbasa sausage to cook up with my crawfish, making it a full one pot meal. That succulent crawfish paired with smoky kielbasa sausage, sweet yellow corn and red potatoes tossed in garlic butter with fresh parsley and a splash of Pelican Brewing Juicy India Pale Ale couldn’t have been a more perfect way to end an already incredible day.
There’s something so special about being able to harvest a meal like this with the ones you love, then sitting down at the end of the day and enjoying it together as a family.
Crawfish Boil Ingredients:
One limit of crawfish
3 ears of corn on the cob cut into rounds (I used yellow but you could certainly use your favorite kind)
1 small bag of red potatoes
2 packs of kielbasa sausage, sliced into rounds
1 cup butter
6 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup of your favorite beer (I used Pelican Brewing Juicy India Pale Ale from Pacific City for this recipe)
Coarse sea salt for topping
Directions: Pre boil your crawfish for approximately 5-10 minutes, until fully cooked. Set aside.
Boil your corn and potatoes until fully cooked, set aside.
Grill kielbasa until it has a nice char and warmed through, set aside.
Place crawfish, corn, potatoes and sausage in a large pot or mixing bowl all together.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter, then add garlic, stirring constantly to ensure garlic doesn’t burn. Once garlic is cooked through, add beer, stirring for approximately 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, add fresh chopped parsley then pour over crawfish, potatoes, corn and kielbasa and carefully toss all together then dump it all out onto a large board, sheet pan, newspaper or whatever you might have handy, sprinkle with coarse sea salt and enjoy!