When my friends at Field To Table Outdoors wanted to interview me with a focus on catching and eating invasive species I was thrilled. The No. 1 invasive species that I catch in Colorado is not only delicious to eat but it is easy to catch it and lots of fun.
Crawdads of course! (a.k.a crayfish, crawfish, mudbugs). It's a given entrée when we have guests over in the summer and the fall as well as a go to comfort when bowfishing was especially hard ;)
Once you have caught them make sure they are properly purged. The Colorado crawdads are, depending on location, true to their nickname "mudbugs". After a couple of evenings of crawdad trapping I usually have 10 - 20 lbs worth of catch
They are put in big plastic containers without water. As they crawl and move around the crawdads will scrape off all the sediments, well mud, that we do not want in our cooking.
For 3-5 days I keep the crawdads alive before cooking them. Every morning and evening I give them fresh water for 5 minutes and the rest of the day they rest in the cool basement of my house. As the picture show it is a big difference between day 1 and day 5.
Cooking time is a fun event that always fascinate my kids. The crawdads are roughly sorted by size so the cooking time is even for each batch.
One-by-one they are dropped in to the fragrant dill and beer liquid which has reached a roaring boil. One second the crawdads are dark, brown, even bluish in color and the next they are all bright - delicious looking red.
What follows here is my traditional Swedish Recipe for how (I) cook Crawdads. It is very different from the southern US way of doing it and gives a amazingly fragrant and tasty result.
I have several other tasty Crawdad recipes from Southern Louisiana Crawfish Boils to Spicy Cajun Butter Fried Mudbugs that I hope to share later this summer (2018). Stay tuned for more ...
Kräftkok - Traditional Swedish Crawdad
2 lbs of live, cleaned and purged crawdads
2.5 quarts of water
2 bottles of dark beer
English or Baltic Style Porters is to prefer. Stay away from chocolate or coffee flavored porters
0.5 cups of coarse cosher salt
3 tbsp of sugar or 1 tbsp of honey
Lots of whole dill, at least 10 for cooking and 5 for later.
Rinse the crawdads in cold water. Check that they are still alive.
Sort the crawdads according to size Large - Medium. They should be boiled with roughly same sized crawdads for even cook time.
Put all ingredients, except the crawdads in a large enough pot. Crank up the temperature and let it boil for 10 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the dill. Put the dill aside - you will use it later.
Drop the live crawdads in the boiling water. Only put a few in at a time - say 5 - 10.
Let crawdads boil for 5-7 minutes. Once they are floating they can be picked up with a slotted spoon.
Fill a large pot or container with cold water. When the crawdads that are done cooking are picked up they should be put in the cold water to cool down.
Once all crawdads are boiled turn off the heat and let the water cool down.
Once the brine is cool add back all the crawdads and the cooked dill to the brine.
As a last touch, add the remaining dill on top of the crawdads.
Leave the crawdads in the brine, in a fridge, for at 24h.
The crawdads can be eaten cold. My preference is to give them a flash boil and then server them.
Remove the crawdads from the brine.
Crank up the heat until the brine is boiling.
Add all the crawdads to the brine and leave until the water is boiling again. Remove the crawdads immediately with a slotted spoon. Don't mind the dill that is clinging to the crawdads.