Unfortunately, crawfish season is equally as fleeting as that beautiful weather the Texas spring brings with it. The season for everyone's favorite Cajun delicacy starts just after the Super Bowl in Louisiana, and typically lasts until mid-to-late June. Unfortunately, according to Jon Alexis of TJ's Seafood, this year's crawfish season may be over before it ever really got going.
Alexis's suppliers are just now shutting down their farms, but he says the crawfish never reached that almost-lobster size that results in a perfectly boiled, plump and juicy crawfish tail. "When there's ice on the ground in March," Alexis told me via e-mail, "you know it's going to be a poor crawfish season.
A freakishly cold winter combined with a historically dry fall spelled disaster for Louisiana's crawfish farms this year. In May, Louisiana State University aquaculture researcher Robert Romaine told the Monroe News Star that farmers lost a month of this year's growing season to icy temperatures. The size of crawfish is heavily dependent on the temperature, and warmer water breeds bigger bugs.
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They're also more expensive than they should be. "They should be a buck cheaper for bigger crawfish, but we got off to really late start this year," Alexis wrote. He added that the crawfish that he was getting wasn't consistently good. Some catches resulted in smaller 'bugs than others, and no one likes paying top-dollar for tiny crawfish that are difficult to peel.
Alexis also pointed out, though, that you'll still be able to find Louisiana crawfish tail meat that was frozen during the season for dishes like gumbo and etouffee. "Just because it isn't crawfish season doesn't mean that you aren't eating an inferior or imported product," he wrote. It may seem like something only annoying hipsters in Portlandia do, but checking the provenance of your crawfish really isn't a bad idea. Imported crawfish is notorious for being raised in unsanitary conditions, and is often labeled as "Cajun" crawfish.
Still, nothing compares to fresh crawfish right out of the boil. Once the season is over around July 4, there won't be any more opportunities for you to satisfy your crawfish craving in your backyard until next spring rolls around. It's also likely that we'll stop seeing fresh crawfish from the Louisiana gulf in Cajun restaurants across the city, so you should probably make it a point to head to one of our favorite crawfish joints in the Metroplex or start planning your Independence Day boil before it's too late.