Saturday, June 10, 2023

Shrimp, crawfish, crustaceans, oh my!

Bailey Woodean
Bailey Woodean
I have been a freelance writer for more than 4 years, a mom for more than 2 years, and a wife for just under a year. I am currently a student in a cooking and catering program with the intention of expanding my knowledge of the culinary business. I then plan to take this knowledge to properly write about and critique restaurants and food. Writing to you from Niagara Falls, NY, thanks for joining me on the ride!
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These are some of the most sought after ingredients in any seafood restaurant, especially as you venture into the southern states. In fact, many of the locals would even consider them as a restaurant and household staple. But, are they all the same animal? And, are they all handled and cooked the same way?


Are shrimp, crawfish, and crustaceans the same animal?

The short answer is that shrimp and crawfish are both types of crustaceans that are often found in seafood restaurants. However, shrimp and crawfish are different animals in the category. Shrimp are typically found in areas of saltwater. They have a longer tail and smaller claws. The crawfish are typically found in areas of freshwater. They have shorter tails but larger claws.

So, now that we know that shrimp and crawfish are both members of the crustacean family, but different animals, we can move on to the next question.

Are shrimp and crawfish handled and cooked the same way?

It seems that there are several different methods of preparing crawfish and shrimp, many of which are very similar. However, there are “preferred” methods for each of them. Example recipes of the best cooking method of each are listed below.



Shrimp can be boiled, baked, raw, and deep-fried. The recipe I found below is one of the highest-rated shrimp recipes and it recommends cooking the shrimp in a heated skillet.

Simple Garlic Shrimp

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon caper brine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cold butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cold butter water, as needed
  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until it just begins to smoke. Place shrimp in an even layer on the bottom of the pan and cook for 1 minute without stirring.
  2. Season shrimp with salt; cook and stir until shrimp begin to turn pink about 1 minute.
  3. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice, caper brine, 1 1/2 teaspoon cold butter, and half the parsley.
  4. Cook until the butter has melted, about 1 minute, then turn heat to low and stir in 1 1/2 tablespoon cold butter. Cook and stir until all butter has melted to form a thick sauce and shrimp are pink and opaque for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl; continue to cook butter sauce, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time if too thick, about 2 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Serve shrimp topped with the pan sauce. Garnish with remaining flat-leaf parsley.



Crawfish can also be cooked and prepared in many of the same ways that shrimp can be. Deep-fried, pan-fried, boiled, and baked. The recipe I have included below uses saucepan and skillets throughout the recipe!

Crawfish Etouffee

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • ½ medium onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery (about 1-2 sticks)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoons thyme fresh or dried
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups Crawfish or chicken stock adjust to desired consistency
  • 1 pound Crawfish
  • 2-3 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Hot sauce (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan combine melted butter, oil, and flour until smooth.
  2. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously, for about 10-12 minutes, until you have achieved the desired color. Don’t walk away from the stove during this process. It might burn.
  3. Add the onion, green pepper, and celery and cook for 8- 10 minutes –stirring frequently.
  4. Then add, garlic, thyme and bay leaf – continue stirring about 2 minutes.
  5. Next throw in about 1 cup chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and creole seasoning and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Gradually pour in about 2 cups of stock, bring to a boil and let it simmer. Add the crawfish, simmer for 3-4 more minutes.
  7. Adjust thickness soup and flavor with more shrimp broth or water, hot sauce, and salt.
  8. Stir in, green onions, and chopped parsley.
  9. Serve over hot cooked rice.
Crawfish Etouffee
  1. Add a teaspoon or 2 of butter or oil to a saucepan or skillet. Then throw in Crawfish shells, the remaining scraps of onion, garlic, celery together with aromatics like bay leaf and thyme.
  2. Saute for about 5 -7 minutes, stirring constantly, to prevent any burns. Add about 5 cups of water to it
  3. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let it simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Remove from heat and strain using a sieve. Set stock aside

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