Unless you're in Louisiana during crawfish season, which generally runs from November through July, or in Oregon where the season lasts until fall, fresh crawfish can be difficult to come by. But now that you can get just about anything you want online, you can have frozen crawfish anytime.
Crawfish or Crayfish?
Crawfish, crayfish and even crawdad all refer to the same water-dwelling crustacean. A cousin of the lobster, crawfish are found all over the world. And while most crawfish live in the fresh water of streams and lakes, a few varieties prefer saltwater, and some even live on land, according to Columbia Journalism Review.
Crawfish aren't all that much different from lobsters, although they tend to be a lot smaller in size. A crawfish may grow as large as 6 inches in length, while a lobster can be 20 or more inches, according to Cajuncrawfish.com. They also have a similar taste, and when prepared in a similar fashion, you may have a difficult time figuring out if you're eating crawfish or lobster.
That said, the two crustacean cousins are often prepared differently, which may be what sets them apart in the culinary world. Lobster is often boiled or steamed and served with butter while crawfish are boiled whole, flavored with Cajun seasonings and served over a mix of boiled potatoes and corn. Unlike lobster, where the tail is the main delicacy, crawfish tails are too small to cook by themselves.
Read more: 7 Fish Recipes That are Great for Your Heart
Crawfish Nutrition Facts
Like other types of shellfish, crawfish are low in calories and high in protein. They're also a good source of many essential vitamins and minerals, including many of the B vitamins, copper, zinc and selenium. According to the USDA, a 3-ounce portion of cooked crawfish contains:
- 74 calories
- 15 grams of protein
- 1 gram of fat
- 0.2 gram of saturated fat
- 117 milligrams of cholesterol
- 55 percent of the daily value (DV) for copper
- 11 percent of the DV for zinc
- 53 percent of the DV for selenium
- 110 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
- 9 percent of the DV for niacin
- 9 percent of the DV for pantothenic acid
Not too long ago, you may have been advised by your health care provider to limit your intake of crawfish due to its cholesterol content. With 117 milligrams of cholesterol per 3-ounce serving, crawfish provides nearly 40 percent of the DV. However, according to a 2018 review published in Nutrients, the cholesterol in food doesn't increase your risk of heart disease.
It's the saturated fat that often accompanies foods high in cholesterol that you need to be more concerned about. But with only 0.2 gram of saturated fat in a 3-ounce serving, crawfish isn't high in the unhealthy fat. In fact, the authors of the review in Nutrients note that as a food low in saturated fat and rich in protein, vitamins and minerals, crawfish makes a healthy addition to your diet.
Read more: The 9 Best Cholesterol-Lowering Foods
Cooking Frozen Crawfish
When it comes to cooking frozen crawfish, it's best to follow the directions on the package. Most companies that sell frozen crawfish either completely cook or partially cook the crustaceans before freezing. Cooking your frozen crawfish too long makes them rubbery.
Cooking frozen crawfish isn't all that different than cooking it fresh. However, some frozen crawfish may require defrosting prior to cooking, while others can be prepared from frozen.
To cook your frozen crawfish:
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Add your favorite crawfish seasonings to the water.
- Add your frozen crawfish and cook as directed on the package.
Most frozen crawfish meat requires only 2 minutes of cooking time. Fresh crawfish usually requires 6 to 8 minutes of cooking, according to professional chef Alton Brown.
Zatarain's crawfish boil recipe is convenient for seasoning your water, but the prepackaged product is high in sodium and contains monosodium glutamate. Instead, season your water with a mix of herbs and spices, such as cayenne pepper, paprika, onion and garlic powder, thyme, dry mustard, bay leaves and a pinch of salt.
- Southern Living: "When is Crawfish Season?"
- Columbia Journalism Review: "Crawfish Aren't Actually Fish. Here's How They Got Their Name"
- Cajuncrawfish.com: "Crawfish vs. Lobsters"
- MyFoodData: "Crayfish (cooked)"
- Nutrients: "Dietary Cholesterol and the Lack of Evidence in Cardiovascular Disease"
- Cajuncrawfish.com: "Whole Cooked Frozen Crawfish"
- Louisiana Crawfish Co.: "Boiled Crawfish Frozen (IQF) By The Pound"
- Food Network: "Crawfish Boil"
- McCormick: "Zatarain's Crawfish, Shrimp and Crab Boil"