Do you remember back when I had time to read? When every year I cooked through some work of non-fiction like Garlic and Sapphires and Animal Vegetable Miracle?
I had every intention of continuing the trend last year. I started reading Trail of Crumbs in July. The story of a Korean child, adopted by Louisiana parents, who eventually makes her way to France. The recipes, like the author, are a mix of this disparate regions.
As I said, I started this book last July. And knowing that my reading days would soon be numbered, I tried to savor it, like a great meal. I forced myself to only read a chapter at a time, so I didn't finish it too quickly. Besides, there was so much else to read last summer - instruction manuals for cribs, swings, childbirth. But my well-laid out plan backfired on me. Here it is, a year later, and I still haven't finished the book! Our poor heroine is stuck in rural France (although she may be on vacation in the Mediterranean, I can't remember) unsure of where she's heading in life.
So I'm sure you're wondering why I'm bringing this up now. It's really an easy explanation - crawfish! The other day when I was in the supermarket picking up something or other I happened to walk by the seafood department and saw them. A mound of bright red crawfish! Crawfish, crayfish, crawdaddies, mudbugs - whatever your preferred appellation, there they were, a rarity in Southern California.
Growing up we caught them in creeks that ran behind our homes, behind the schools, in the shady woods. Summers in the south meant I could indulge in etoufee. I adore crawfish. I bought every last one the store had to offer.
But then I was struck with the thought of - "what am I going to do with these precious precious shellfish?" Which is when I remembered the book on my nightstand. As I mentioned, the author, Kim Sunee, was adopted by Louisiana parents and her childhood was spent growing up in New Orleans. She learned to cook at the elbow of her grandfather who was known for his crawfish bisque. Which sounded like a perfect use for my crawfish.
It was. The soup is a great tomato - so flavorful I used the leftovers to make arroz con pollo. And the crawfish stuffing balls are mild enough that they would make a great introduction if you're among the uninitiated.
Thatbaby was quickly initiated as I sat on the floor beside him shelling these suckers. I spent most of the time trying to keep them out of his mouth - shells and all. It was a battle of wills. I had to keep explain to him that they were going to taste much better. He didn't believe me until he got one of those stuffing balls in his mouth.
Crawfish Bisque (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 tsp canola oil
1/2 small onion, diced
1 celery rib with leaves, diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
2 cans tomato sauce
5-6 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs fresh thyme or oregano
salt and fresh ground black pepper
ground caynne pepper
1 tsp Creole seasonings
pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups crawfish stuffing (recipe to follow)
- Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add onion and celery and cook about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook about 1 minute.
- Stir in tomato sauce and stock.
- Add bay leaves and next 5 ingredients.
- Add pinch of sugar, depending on quality of tomatoes. Bring to a low boil; reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes.
- Place stuffing balls in sauce. Simmer on low about 30 minutes until heated through.
Crawfish Stuffing (From Trail of Crumbs)
2 loaves french bread
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 yellow, finely diced
2 celery ribs with leaves, finely diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 to 4 Tbsp fresh finely chopped parley
3 to 4 cloves fresh garlic, smashed and minced
1 1/2 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
3/4 to 1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3/4 to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 lbs cooked and peeled crawfish tails
- Cube bread into small pieces and dampen with enough water just to cover.
- Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Add onion, celery, and green onions and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes or until soft.
- Squeeze out excess liquid from bread, add to skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.
- Add parsley and next 5 ingredients. Cook, scraping bottom of skillet as stuffing browns.
- Add water if stuffing gets too dry.
- Chop the crawfish tails and stir in.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Let stuffing cool and form into 2 inch round balls.