Adventures in Survival Food: The Crawfish

  1. GPS1504
    Sometimes survival eating can get interesting. When times get tough, it may become necessary for you to sample items that are not ordinarily on your menu. This can even include eating bugs...mud bugs.

    Crawfish are small, edible crustaceans that can be found in various locations around the United States. They are also referred to as mud bugs, crayfish, or crawdads and look much like a tiny lobster might. In the south they are highly prized in meals such as crawfish etouffee and pasta dishes but are most widely consumed at events such as crawfish boils where they are boiled in huge pots full of various seasonings.

    While a crawfish boils are a thing of fun, having to fend for yourself in a survival situation may not be quite as exciting. This does not mean that you cannot dine on crawfish, however. When it comes to readily available food, crawfish are actually a good choice. Should you find yourself in a region in which they are native, they can be found plentifully. There are several hundred species of which can be captured and eaten. Crawfish are also the most widespread crustacean around the globe, which is good for those looking to eat them.

    In addition to providing the necessary sustenance to keep your body going, crawfish are capable of keeping your brain on track as well. In addition to containing protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, crawfish are rich in an amino acid known as Tyrosine which has been linked to mental energy, enabling better thought processes and reactions to stimulus. While many of us will find this beneficial, there are still those who should not risk it. Crawfish allergies do exist (much like shellfish). They are also high in iodine which is a problem for some people. If these are triggers for you personally, avoiding crawfish consumption is wise.


    Since it has been mentioned that crawfish look like miniature lobsters, it is worthy of mention that they are armed like lobsters as well. They have two claws at the front of their body and will readily pinch you given the chance. They also have several legs beneath them for crawling about as well as a tail that acts as the real motion source. With a flick of the tail a crawfish will jet backwards so quickly that if you blink, you will miss it. It is this backwards motion that you must be aware of if you intend to catch crawfish, as waiting for one to move forward will leave you sorely disappointed. They are easy to catch with a net or even a well-placed can as long as you anticipate this backwards motion and place your catching device appropriately.


    Crawfish live in or near water and swampy areas. In areas where wet ground is present, you may find what looks like a bunch of cylinders made of balls of mud with a hole in the top. It is in these cylinders that crawfish reside and raise their young, having burrowed down until water has been reached. Once you've seen one of these, they will be easy to recognize in the future and you can scavenge these cylinders for a crawfish meal, but don't forget about those claws! The injury a crawfish can inflict will be painful enough to get your attention and you will live to tell the tale, but avoiding a pinch in the first place is preferable.

    While crawfish preparation can be done in many ways, boiling is the most common and easiest method. Simply throw live crawfish (never cook or consume dead crawfish!) into boiling water and let the water return to a boil before dousing the heat source, then leave the crawfish in the water for another 20 minutes or so before eating. Once they are cool enough to eat, gently twist the tail off and squeeze the base of the tail to break it apart. Pull the tail free and separate the vein from the tail, then eat the tail meat.



    Photo credit: Cooking Light

    When water is present, fishing may be the first option you consider. Fishing is familiar to most of us across the board whereas eating crawfish may not be. Crawfish are another option for a meal and should not be overlooked. When you find yourself stuck in the mud and muck, just remember that you may not yet be out of luck, because where you stand is the perfect place for a meal of crawfish to be found.

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