happens to be everywhere in South Louisiana. Shrimp,
crabs, crawfish, oysters,
frog legs, alligator, turtle
are a few, and of course, fish. A few are reptiles and amphibians but what the heck, they
live in water, they're seafood to me. Click on the links above or just
scroll down, your choice....
Shrimp are harvested on the Louisiana saltwater bayous and in the Gulf
of Mexico. In general we have two seasons; the Brown Shrimp or May season
usually starting in May and lasting for about 45 days. The White
Shrimp Season usually begins in August and lasts until around December.
Fresh shrimp are usually de-headed and frozen with the shells on in a
little water in a zipper lock type bag (get all the air out). The water is
essential to prevent freezer burn. Some folks
peal the shrimp first. Leaving the shells on leaves me with
more cooking options also; like baked shrimp and making shrimp stock.
Fresh shrimp should be kept covered
with ice (not ice water) for handling. If they get warm they'll spoil and
start smelling immediately. If you see any red on a fresh shrimp it means
it got too warm at some point. I won't buy em'!
I like a 40 count (number per pound, heads on) shrimp for gravies and 20
count for boiling, baking, grilling and frying. To me, any larger has too
much of an iodine taste.
With large shrimp you can even pull the leg sections from the heads and
fry them. "Oh yuk" you say, but, it's no different than
frying a soft-shell crab.
Shrimp dishes include boiled, gumbo, etouffee, stew, jambalaya,
baked, stuffed, dips, soup, grilled, boulettes, and of course, fried. ..... see "cooking
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The Louisiana gulf coast crab (Blue Claw) is normally found in abundance
during the summer months but can be had at other times. Freshwater and
saltwater crabs are available, saltwater being the more popular. Crabs are caught in the shrimp trawlers'
nets but mostly by crab fishermen using traps. You can also catch
them yourself using string with a chicken neck tied to it, a dip net and a
little finesse (the kids love this)! Hey, when the fish ain't bitin' the
crabs probably are!
Fresh crabs will usually stay alive if kept moist and cool with a
decent air circulation. Icing crabs down with too much ice (we call this
"iced hard") will kill them
as will excessive heat. If you put crabs in an ice chest laying a small
bag of ice on top of them will do just fine. Another trick to keeping live
crabs "Live" is never let them sit up-side-down. If you have to,
dump them into another container and place them one-by-one back into the
holding container. Once a crab dies the meat
gets mushy, same as crawfish. If you've ever eaten boiled
crabs and found that some of them had mushy meat it means they died before
hitting the boiling water. I'm sure there is a time period that must
elapse between death and the mush. I don't know what it is but it's not long. That's why when it comes to boiled seafood in
Louisiana you hear people say "don't eat the dead ones", that's
what it means. An experienced boiled crab or crawfish eater can tell the
difference right away. I can't say that it will actually hurt you to eat
it, but, boy the pallet gets a nasty feeling! You can usually look at a
fresh crabs' mouth and if the mandibles are hanging loose, it's dead. This is not
so prevalent in crabs that have been iced hard. If they try to pinch you
they're most likely alive!
Fresh whole crabs can be prepared for the freezer by scalding them about 2
minutes and cleaning them. They can also be prepared live. Freeze them as you would shrimp. If you boil
the crabs you can pick the meat and freeze it in a zipper bag with a
little water (get the air out).
Soft-shelled crabs are a delicacy to me. A soft shell crab is just a
regular crab that is molting. The crab sheds its smaller shell to allow
for a new larger shell to grow. This crab is now being farmed, in that the
experienced crab farmer can actually look at the color changes on certain
parts of the crab and is able to tell when the molt will begin. At the precise
time the crab is pulled from the water and hard packed in ice to stop the
Some of the favorite dishes are boiled, stew,
stuffed and is used in creamy soups. [Cooking
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Mud-bugs (or "bugs" for short)
are very popular here in Louisiana, especially boiled.
Crawfish can be purchased right from the fishermen, if you know one, but
normally they're available at seafood stores that specialize in fresh and boiled
seafood. Restaurants abound serving this delicacy throughout South
Crawfish come from the Atchafalaya Basin, rice fields, and, are farmed in
dedicated crawfish ponds. They, as crabs, are caught in traps. If you're
willing to brave a snake or two you can go out and catch them yourself in
the right ditch.
Handling fresh crawfish is pretty much the same as crabs. Keep them
cool and moist. If they died before cooking the meat will get
somewhat mushy. You can tell when you pull the tail away from the body and
the first piece of meat breaks off. Most of the time the crawfish tail
won't be curled.
Great dishes with this rascal are boiled,
Etouffee', bisque, stew
and fried soft-shell. They also make a great omelet. [Cooking
When Freezing your crawfish tails in
water add a little lemon juice. They keep a
Make a "Fat" cube by separating
the fat, simmer it a little with lemon juice
and freezing it in an ice cube tray adding a
little water. Once frozen remove from tray
and put in zipper bags and back in the
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Here's one of my favorite sea creatures. Oysters from South La. are
harvested in saltwater bays and bayous by oyster fishermen year
round. The commoner can pick a few for himself which is another
"fish ain't bitin'" activity. I'm from South Louisiana and have
picked, shucked and eaten many an oyster.
Down here the "R" month concept
does not fully work. The concept (I've
heard) was developed up north in the colder
regions of the U.S. People have mistakenly
adapted it down here. The best months are
normally Nov., Dec., and January. In
February they start to become milky and
loose their firmness. If Iím going to eat
raw oysters Iím very selective about where
the oysters are picked. For me itís Empire
and Grand Isle Louisiana; these areas have
good water flow and salt content is high.
Iíll also wait until the daily high
temperature is at least 45 degrees for
several days. Eating raw oysters can be very
Oysters must naturally be shucked. My paternal Grandfather was an
oyster shucker in New Orleans way long ago. He showed my father not only
how to shuck them but how to make an oyster
knife. This might seem simple
but the "pro shuckers technique" was complex and produced a
perfectly shucked oyster 99.9% of the time.
Handling oysters follows the basic rules, cool and moist. After you get
them out of the shell they must be refrigerated.
Oyster dishes include; on the half shell, fried, soups, jambalaya,
Rockefeller, dressing, grilled and gumbo... see "Cooking
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Frog legs come from the chicken! Aw come on nah! Of course they're from
frogs and those frogs are usually the marsh bull frog. You ain't lived
unless you've been at the camp and heard those bad boys croak.
Froggin' (hunting frogs) is a night time activity usually done in small jo-boats
and pirogues. They're taken with a gig or with a looped-wire stick. The
frog is then skinned, gutted and head removed. If the frog is big enough
we eat the body too! Hey, don't waste nuttin round here. Frog actually
tastes a little like chicken but better.
Favorite dishes here are fried, sauce piquant and smothered.
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Yea, usually if it moves we'll eat it! Alligator is farmed, and, caught
in the wild in South Louisiana freshwater marshes. Cultivation is not for
the meat but for the hide, but, as fate would have it, there's meat
beneath that hide and, well.... we're eating! If you're lucky enough to
know a farmer or hunter you can get a little alligator tail meat for usually
nothin'. The meat is now available via seafood outlets and believe me,
it's worth trying. The meat is off-white and has a taste combination in
the chicken, fish, frog area and has no "wild" flavor. It kinda
depends on the size of the animal, and to me, the younger the
Favorite dishes are fried, and naturally, a good sauce piquant.
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Turtle is abundant in the fresh water swamps of Louisiana and of course
it moves, so what do we do?.... eat it! No, we don't eat "Ripley's
believe it or not" turtles. We got enough fresh water varieties.
Snapping turtle (cah-wan, somebody correct me on this) is probably the most popular but there are other types
that fit just fine in the pot. Turtle meat is available in the local
seafood place and if you're out fishing and run up on one just grab em'
and throw em' in a sack. Chances are you'll find somebody who knows how to
clean one around here. Turtle is one of the animals that has meat that
tastes different dependent upon the part of the body it comes from.
Turtle is also a sauce piquant favorite. I've heard a gumbo is good too
but haven't tried that one yet.
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As I'm sure everyone knows fish fits any plate and most people like it.
One of the nice things about South Louisiana is that fish is abundant in
both fresh and saltwater varieties. Personally I like perch (a.k.a. blue
gill), sac-a-lait (a.k.a. white perch or crappie), goggle-eye, catfish, fresh specks (speckled trout),
red fish, drum and
flounder. I honestly can't say I have one favorite when it comes to fish,
I just love them all. Each has it's own spot on my tongue. The Gulf
waters give us snapper, ling (cobia), amberjack and many others (too many
to list here).
Most of us know that fish must be kept iced down at all times (but I
had to say it).
Fried, grilled, with sauces, hey you can't hardly mess up fish.
Favorite dishes are sauce piquant, courtbullion, fried and stuffed
(flounder). See... "Cooking Fish"
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Well that's about it for the seafood section. I hope you've learned a
little and I didn't gross you out...haha! Seafood is a big part of South
Louisiana eating. We say," it's here - we eat it!". On
Oh by the way, if your visiting South Louisiana and want to partake in any of the
outdoor activities mentioned above, be sure to follow the laws set forth by our
state. Your link to the Louisiana
Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
Have a good one.......