Crayfish: what is it & how can you eat it like a lobster

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 29, 2022

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Crayfish is a type of crustacean that looks like a small lobster.

In Louisiana, this crustacean is called a crawfish, whereas, up North, they just use the term crayfish. It’s also known as crawdad in Arkansas, Kansas, and some Western states.

The crayfish is like smaller lobsters, and it’s a seasonal type of seafood in many areas of the USA.

How do you eat crayfish?

Crayfish are eaten all over the world. Like other edible crustaceans, only a small portion of the body of a crayfish is edible. In most prepared dishes, such as soups and bisques, only the tail portion is served.

But, if you have a large one, the claws can be pulled apart to get to the meat inside.

Another great way to eat crayfish is to suck the head of the crayfish, because all of your seasoning and flavor can collect in the cooked fat inside the head.

Can you eat crayfish with a straight tail?

A common myth is that a crayfish with a straight tail died before it was boiled and is not safe to eat. In reality, crayfish that died before boiling can have curled tails as well as straight, as can those that were alive, and may very well be fine to eat.

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Boiled crayfish which died before boiling are safe to eat if they were kept chilled before boiling and were not dead for a long time.

A much better test than the straight tail as to the edibility of any crayfish is the tail meat itself; if it’s mushy, it’s usually an indication that it should be avoided.

Are crayfish kosher?

Like all crustaceans, crayfish are not kosher because they are aquatic animals that do not have both fins and scales. They are therefore not eaten by observant Jews.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.