...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Food journal number 25: Ode to the Crayfish

C rustaceans
R ed
A nd juicy –
Y ummy!
F ound
I n
S upermarkets –
H ooray!

Well yeah, it's crayfish season again. My sister actually called from Germany the other day – the traditional Swedish crayfish parties have become a hit there too, apparently – just to gloat that German IKEAs were serving all-you-can-eat crayfish for 15 Euros (130 kroners) a person. Like in traditional Swedish crayfish parties, they dined outdoors (at the IKEA parking lot), donned with bibs. The only difference between here and there, however, was that the drinks were free and aquavit could be bought at the IKEA kiosk! (WoW!)

Anyway, this IKEA crayfish party seemed to have been launched in Germany quite recently. If I remember right, my sister's boyfriend found out about it by accident a couple of years ago, unfortunately just right after already eating lunch (or something to this effect). They came well prepared for this year's event though: they tried the sauce that came with the crayfish, but just in case, they brought some of their own lemons along! It also seemed that they ate a lot. My sister reports aching forearms and fingers from peeling crayfish, and competing in an imaginary crayfish-peeling contest with the folks who sat beside them. These neighbors, BTW, tipped them on bagging the leftovers too. So I guess they were stuffed.

After my sister phoned, a quick conversation with Marcus turned into an instant unanimous decision to buy 2 kilos of frozen crayfish, to defrost and eat 1 kilo for dinner, and make our own sauce (more like a broth that the crayfish sit on to acquire flavor) for the other kilo, to eat the next day. A food journal idea brewed inside me: Crayfish vs. Crayfish.

(I made a cropping mistake in Photosop and managed to take out one pincher out from each of their claws. Just say they were battle wounds :-D)

On the blue corner: Crayfish with the pre-made sauce. These crayfish are caught from China, but according to the label in the crayfish box, the crayfish sauce itself (or broth, whatever you choose to call it) is made from a "traditional Swedish recipe" whose production was "overseen by Swedish personnel." I guess the Swedish consumers are sticklers for their Swedish ways!

The first slurp of the dribbling crayfish juices (and the eventual eating of the very first crayfish tail) is – if you pay attention to this moment well enough – really the best part of the meal in my opinion. The juices just get your salivary glands going, and there's an explosion of savory tastes in your mouth. The crayfish, given that they've been sitting and defrosting on their own liquids, is incredibly juicy (so much that the sauce dribbles down your elbows), and tasty. I can't complain about the pre-made sauce. Even though we bought the cheapest brand of crayfish (for 69:- a kilo, or about the price of a regular pizza), I'm convinced that the other more expensive ones couldn't be so much more spectacular for 20-50 kroners more.

On the red corner: The same Chinese crayfish but with homemade sauce: a broth made of water (ca. 1 liter), beer (at least 33 cl), a bunch of dill crowns, 1 deciliter of rock salt, and some sugar (forgot how much), all brought to a boil and simmered for 10 minutes. After the broth has cooled, you can pour out the pre-made sauce from the crayfish tray and replace it with this one, preferably in a box with a lid. Let it the whole box sit in the refrigerator for one more day.

Interestingly, beer, water, salt and sugar, together with some dill tastes like... seafood! Strange, huh? Even though it didn't make the crayfish taste so very different from the original, there are some noticeable positive differences with the crayfish in homemade broth. The crayfish tasted fresher, almost making yesterday's crayfish taste slightly chemical in comparison. It also tasted simpler, but fit for "fancy" food nonetheless. For my part, making the sauce (which really wasn't much of a hassle nor a big cost) was worth it to "up" the flavor one more notch. I'm still convinced the other more expensive crayfish brands constitute highway robbery, but at least now I know that the pre-made sauce of the cheapest brand is possible to improve. So the crayfish in the red corner is the winner! (Note: despite the fact that it was hard to get a hold of dill crowns. Only one store seemed to be selling it in the whole centrum.)

By the way, on the second day, we also made our own aoili (gralic mayonnaise) out of scratch, so maybe it's a good time to plug that story in here too. We've always wanted to try making our own mayonnaise, but never had any motivation to because we're quite happy with the brand we buy (which has the words "the original" on it in big letters; I don't like light- or fake-aroo mayonnaise that resemble lard but have no taste).

The aoili requires: 2 egg yolks, a teaspoon of vinegar and a whopping 3 deciliters of olive oil (some recipes say 2 and a half – we should have stuck to less, because ours tasted too much like olives). The egg yolks and vinegar and mixed in a bowl, and you add the olive oil literally by the drop (at least in the beginning) as you whisk everything with a hand mixer. Soon (or about 25 minutes of whisking later) the egg yolk-and-vinegar mixture will have turned from a frothy bright yellowy liquid into a butter-yellow thickish glop that resembles mayo. Flavor with pressed garlic, some lemon juice, cayenne pepper and salt, and smother into your baguette slices, to eat with crayfish. I think it made a good complement to the crayfish in homemade sauce, but like I said, we will probably put less olive oil if we decide to make this again. Otherwise, plain garlic bread works well with crayfish too.


Blogger Peachy said...

Joy! Seriously, that whole acronym thing is straight off the whole Autograph Book phenomenon. I can't stop giggling here. Hooray? Hooray.

5:58 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Heheh... I was so tempted to come up with an acronym for your name, but the best I could think of was: "Potatoes, Eggs And Cold Ham... Yum!" How's that? :-D

Hooray! :-)

9:25 PM

Anonymous Liz said...

Hi Joy, Liz here... The all-you-can-eat-crayfish-fest was for only 15 Euros per person, not 120 (am not rich, you know!)
It was money well spent indeed!!!!
Can't wait til next year's crayfish fest!

8:54 PM

Blogger Ahoy! said...


Sorry about that Liz! I was actually thinking of kroners (which I estimated to be about 120 -- it's actually 130+ after computation)... Anyway, I changed it now. Besides, at IKEA, 120 Euros would probably buy you a whole dining room furniture set instead of a crayfish lunch, even if it IS all-you-can-eat! :-D

9:30 PM

Blogger Cheryl said...

re: your archive site

i don't know if it was just me, hehe, but i got confused and i clicked on a picture in your slideshow, expecting that it linked to one of your tags (ie, food). hindi pala -- napunta tuloy ako sa slide.com.

anyway, mejo fast-learner ako so i clicked on the actual tags on my second exploration. the format's very clean and logical. :) but maybe you'd want to add a line between entries, or alternate color background per entry; basta any breaker para mas madali ma-distinguish ang entries. :) i'm also trying to "manage" my entries but i don't know how to yet, kaya i'm looking at what you've done so far, hehehe

10:16 AM

Blogger Cheryl said...

joy, oh grammar guru, hehe. i have a question.

which is correct?

Ann, in cooperation with May, invite


Ann, in cooperation with May, invites


yung second, right?

8:10 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

I agree with "Anne invites". Only Anne is the subject of the sentence, May is not.

Anyway, I checked with a website (heheh). See rule 5 on the link below. I would say that sentences with "in cooperation with" would follow the same S-V agreement rule as those with "as well as..." "including..." etc.


I'm not the grammar guru. I myself would ask my sisters heheh. :-)

BTW thanks for the suggestions on "Oldies". I'll do something about that soon.

3:55 PM

Blogger Cheryl said...

thanks, joy! and even if you're not a certified grammar guru, i'll still course my grammar questions through you ha, hehe :D

8:54 AM


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