Crayfish: The Poor Person’s Prawn

crayfish, dill and chilves

The summer seems to have abandoned London completely at this point. While in other years, the city and the season have tried to make a go of it, keeping appearances up for the sake of the children – this year all pretenses seem to have been abandoned and the city sits in limbo. It’s humid, not hot, but not really cold either, with sunbursts and short downpours occurring about six or seven times a day. Or at least that’s what it feels like.

While N is (or was) baking in New York, nauseated by the thought of anything warm and hearty but rejoicing in the fresh and citrusy side of the culinary world, my own food appetite is confused and a bit bipolar. The humid coolness of the weather makes me long for something that will actually sit in my stomach and be felt, while the dank heat of the tube and the occasional sunshine makes me long for light, fresh food. In short, I think I’m looking for a hearty winter-summer hybrid that I’m not even sure actually exists.

So for my inspiration, I thought I would look to Scandinavia. Short, sunny, cool summers seemed conducive to my culinary mood, and I had long been eager to use an ingredient widely available but seemingly extremely under-used in English cuisine: the crayfish. Instead of using it as a cheap alternative to prawns (what I would do), the English seem simply to either slather it in mayonnaise in a sandwich or put it in star-gazy pie (a dish not for the uninitiated). It seems such a shame, and I welcome, dear readers, your favourite crayfish dishes.

Luckily for me, I have spent a great deal of time in both Sweden and Denmark, and below please find my version of dish often prepared by the father of my Swedish host-family. It involves egg noodles, dill and a light rosé sauce. It leaves you feeling like you’ve eaten a summer dish, but it can also keep you warm in case the weather suddenly turns. The little red-and-white crayfish tails swimming in a pink sauce flecked with vibrant green dill seem to carry heft, while at the same time threatening to float off the plate. If I weren’t so poor I would use fresh tomatoes (peeled and seeded) but a tin does just as nicely – I also enjoy keeping the tomatoes a little chunky to give the dish a bit more texture. I had fresh chives from my window box, so I threw those in as well.

Crayfish Pasta

Crayfish and Dill Rosé over Egg Noodles

2 tbsps olive oil
1 package peeled, cooked, washed crayfish tails
1 package fresh dill, chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (half the juice drained)
2 tbsps Tomato Paste (or Puree)
150 ml double cream (approx 2/3 cup)
fresh chives (optional), finely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. freshly cooked, drained egg noodles.

In a saucepan over medium heat, heat the olive oil and chives together, then add the tomatoes, and tomato puree. Add salt to taste. Once sauce is heated and thickened, add the double cream and simmer until you have a nice chunky rosé sauce. Add crayfish and dill, and simmer gently for about 3 – 5 minutes,until the crayfish are just heated through. Ladle over egg noodles, and serve.
Serves approx. 2 -3 .

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5 Responses to Crayfish: The Poor Person’s Prawn

  1. Omnivora says:

    How gorgeous! I’ve never cooked with rose.

  2. I love mine in a killer spicy concoction…I named it Killer Cajun Crawfish!

  3. Debbi Ross says:

    B…. this sounds wonderful, and I love the pictures.. thanks for sharing your recipes!

  4. bob says:

    One word: gumbo. Light? mmm, maybe not so much. But you can make it fresh-tasting by emphasizing the Holy Trinity of cajun food and the okra.

    if you get them really fresh, I’d make a ceviche.

    how about vietnamese summer rolls?

  5. B says:

    bob – I love the idea of crayfish vietnamese salad rolls… right now I’m completely obsessed with vietnamese coffee with condensed milk over ice, and it only feels right to eat it with other vietnamese food.


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