Spring is crawfish season in Louisiana. I have several scrumptious crawfish recipes to share this year. “Cajun Fried Crawfish Tails” is not the most common way to serve this mudbug but it is a delicious dish. The fried crawfish are small, crispy and they “pop” with spicy Cajun seasonings. They remind me of fried popcorn shrimp. The “secret ingredient” in my recipe is Tabasco Sauce. It adds just the right touch of “hot” to this dish. Serve the fried crawfish as an appetizer or as part of a salad or at any special occasion where you want something really different to share.
Crawfish are a Louisiana specialty. They live and breed in the swamps of southern Louisiana and in the springtime the crawfish come out of their burrows. Fishermen set out baited traps to catch the crawfish. In Louisiana, boiled crawfish are sold in grocery stores and restaurants daily during the spring months. We usually purchase hot, boiled crawfish in the shells several times during the spring, bring them home and sit on our backyard patio, peel and eat the boiled crawfish along with seasoned corn and potatoes. (Our dogs wait in high alert for one crawfish accidentally fall off the table; nothing is missed.)
This recipe uses raw, peeled crawfish tails. Fortunately, packages are sold already peeled in markets. Crawfish tails are very perishable; I prefer to purchase frozen packages and thaw enough for my recipe. This year, the peeled tails are still very expensive, $14.00 a pound, due to the cold weather and high water. Hopefully the catch will improve over the next several months and price will come down. Otherwise I might have to limited my crawfish menu this year.
It is important to remember that crawfish caught in the U.S. must indicate this on the package. Crawfish imported from China have an entirely different flavor and are not of the same quality. This is one instance where purchasing an American product makes a huge difference. Don’t have crawfish? You could substitute very small peeled shrimp.
My recipe dates years ago to my catering days in food service. We needed something new and different to serve at the monthly Board of Director’s dinner meeting. Someone suggested Fried Crawfish. I’d never heard of this idea, but went with my cook’s instincts. Lucky for us, the recipe was a great one and the little fried crawfish tails were a hit. I don’t know where the recipe is from; but I kept it all these years because it was a success.
The recipe uses Louisiana hot sauce or other “any mild red pepper sauce.” Sounds like a contradiction in terms; I’m using Tabasco sauce — a Louisiana product. The recipe instructs you to douse the raw, defrosted crawfish tails in hot sauce three times, mixing after each addition. Don’t attempt to saturate the crawfish with the hot sauce, (they would be impossible to eat), just douse on a couple of drops of Tabasco each time and mix. (I probably used 5 or 6 drops each time.) Then you sprinkle on creole seasoning and lemon juice.
The batter is made of flour, corn flour (my addition), baking powder, salt. You could substitute a very fine cornmeal for the corn flour or just use only all-purpose flour.
Crawfish tails are delicate to fry; perhaps that’s why this method is not often seen. The tails are full of liquid and so the frying oil quickly becomes saturated with juices. So, drain off all the liquid from the crawfish tails. Dip the seasoned crawfish tails in the flour breading mix and shake off all the excess excess flour. Fry in hot oil at 350 to 375 degrees for just 2 minutes. I turned them over using a slotted spoon to fry both sides part of the way through; don’t fry for an extended time.
Back in the “old days” we used a hydrogenated shortening for deep frying because it could be heated to a high temperature. This shortening is probably no longer on the market for health reasons; not good for anyone’s heart. I use peanut oil as an alternate. Canola oil could also be used. For frying, I use my trusty cast iron skillet which I love. Pour only an inch of oil into the skillet and heat.
The fried crawfish tails are best when served immediately. They will not remain crisp for long periods of time. Serve with dipping sauce such as a Remoulade Sauce or Ranch Dressing sauce. For a salad, add your favorite salad dressing — or you don’t really need a dressing at all!
I would serve “Cajun Fried Crawfish Tails” at a special occasion; it’s not an ordinary supper menu item at our house. But I do say this recipe adds just the right amount of spices; and eating crawfish is part of the spring ritual in Louisiana. Enjoy!
Cajun Fried Crawfish Tails
- 1 lb raw, peeled crawfish tail meat
- Red pepper sauce (I used Tabasco Sauce)
- 1/2 lemon (or 1 Tbsp lemon juice)
- 3 tsp creole seasoning (I used Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt (optional – omit if creole seasoning contains salt)
Method and Steps:
- Place meat in pan and sprinkle lightly with Louisiana hot sauce or any mild red pepper sauce. Stir. Repeat twice more. Do not saturate.
- Squeeze lemon on meat.
- Season with creole seasoning.
- Mix all-purpose flour, corn flour and baking powder and salt (optional).
- Drain crawfish. Then coat meat. Place meat in a sifter and shake off excess flour.
- Fry in hot 350 degrees in a fryer for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until done.
- Drain on paper towels.