American Signal crayfish are a total pain for the UK, so go out and eat them.
(YouTube Video at the bottom)
In the early 1970’s the UK native crayfish were very popular in eateries around London and the south east. However, due to their small size a larger species was required…
Cue the American Signal Crayfish (ASC). Larger in size and ferocious in reproduction.
Disaster struck when flood waters and escape artist ASC allowed the crays to get into local bodies of water. Naturally larger than the native crayfish, the ASC ate their way through the south of the country, emptying rivers and lakes of their English cousins. Along with their cannibalistic attitude the ASC carry the deadly ‘Crayfish Plague’, which the American crayfish are conveniently immune to.
An Uninvited Guest
So, they enter our waters uninvited and if they’re not eating our crayfish they’re infecting them with the plague. If this wasn’t bad enough the cheeky crays are destroying our English countryside by burrowing into the banks of the streams, rivers and lakes. This is most prevalent during the winter months, when water temperatures are below 10 degrees.
Time to fight back.
Build a trap or buy a trap. Head out to your nearest body of water, bait the trap with fresh fish and leave submerged for 24-48 hours. You will be rewarded with a fine bounty of 100% free food. To go a step further, you are providing a public service by reducing the amount in the environment.
Traps can be bought from Amazon, for as little as £8-£12. Personally I wouldn’t go for anything fancy, the crayfish won’t care. You will also need to obtain a licence from the Environments Agency, good news, they’re free as well!
Catch it, Kill it, Eat it.
I have tried many ‘survival’, ‘bushcraft’ and ‘natural’ foods and, to be honest, there’s a reason so many of them aren’t mass produced. If we are to catch these critters then we should really respect them by enjoying them.
Dispatch should be as quick and efficient as practicable. The simplest method is to plunge them into boiling water, killing and cooking them in one go. Ensure, however, that the water is a roaring, rolling bubbling boil, this will dispatch the crayfish almost instantly. A more laborious, and some may argue more humane, method is to stab the crayfish through the back where the ‘head’ and ‘body’ meet. This will sever the spinal cord bringing about as a pain free death as possible. Both these methods will ensure a speedy death, we don’t like these guys but we don’t hate them. Although I have yet to experience it, if you hear ‘screaming’ when you throw them into boiling water this is just air leaving the shells, not the crayfish writhing in pain (same is true of lobster).
If you are in the field, rolling boil for 5 mins, twist the tail from the body, squeeze out the tail meat then peel the waste pipe from the top of the tail and discard. They can be enjoyed straight away. American Signal Crayfish have a firmer texture than prawns but are more fishy, delicious. The claw meat can be popped out, although smaller claws are sometimes not worth the effort.
However, take a bounty home and prepare your crays in a creamy, tomato and bacon gnocchi bake.
4 Cloves of Garlic
200g smoked bacon lardons
450g Cherry Tomatoes
4 blocks frozen spinach
300g Fage Greek Yoghurt
10-15 Crayfish Tails/Claws
I’m going to keep this simple, because it is simple. Ready…..
- Olive oil in the bottom of a pan, medium heat, add bacon lardons for 5 mins then chopped garlic for a further 3 mins. Now tomatoes, chopped into halves for a further 5 mins.
- Frozen spinach, cook until defrosted and loose.
- Dispatch crayfish in boiling water for 5 mins, transfer to cold water then peel.
4. Crayfish in. Greek Yoghurt in. Boil a pan of water.
5. Cook Gnocchi, as pieces float to the top add them to the tomato and crayfish pan.
6. Combine all ingredients and bake uncovered in the oven (200 degrees C) for 15-20 mins.
7. Take it out, serve with garlic bread and regale tall tales of how you provided food for the table by your own cunning and wit.
I implore you, as a national service and as a patriot, to take a stand against the American Crayfish invasion. But people, lets respect them and enjoy them as a family meal.
Let me know in the comments if you try this meal or if you have any other recipes that you use.