It’s always crawfish season in Acadiana. Even when there aren’t crawfish boils being held every weekend and lines a mile long at your favorite crawfish spot, farmers and local seafood restaurants are always preparing for it. In the downtime, before the season, we take a look at where restaurants, like Jane’s, get their crawfish.
Crawfish can be harvested all over the Acadiana area.
Jane's owner Vu Tran says the local restaurant gets their crawfish from right down the road. From Breaux Bridge to Jane Street, they find their red-tailed friends plump and ready to serve. Though in-between seasons can get slow at times, they've found multiple places to pull crawfish from.
"We have fishermen that fish ponds back in Loreauville, and then we also purchase from our wholesaler at Blanchard seafood," Tran said. "They also provide us with crawfish as well, and then we also have a fisherman who fishes ponds as far as Breaux Bridge, so we do get them locally."
Tran says they also buy from Teche Valley Seafood when they're open. As a seasonal business, Teche Valley Seafood can be found serving scrumptious mud bugs during peak season and into June as well. Though there are more than 500 species of crawfish all over the world 350 of them can be found in the United States and only 2 of them are eaten at places like Jane's and Teche Valley Seafood.
What you feed your crawfish makes a difference.
Humans aren't the only ones choosing their New Year's diets carefully. What breeders choose to feed their crawfish can be just as varied as the ponds that they grow in. Whether it's an all hearty rice field or a nice and serene water pond what they eat matters to their body types. Not all crawfish are created equal, or should be treated as such.
"You get different varieties. The rice one is a little more red, softer, more tender type of crawfish with the big claws," Tran said. " Your Basin crawfish have a bigger tail with a smaller head and skinnier claw. There's different types depending on what you want."
Not only does the diet make a huge difference, but the environment does as well. The crawfish from the Basin are subject to river and water flow, which can also be subject to how much snowfall the northern parts of the United States saw over the winter. The more snow, the higher the river and the different flow, which creates a different environment for the crawfish to live in.
Find a supplier you trust, even if you're just buying a few sacks for you and your family.
Tran confirmed what most Cajuns know, the only place to get a really great quality crawfish is Louisiana. Not only because we have the best quality crawfish, but because when you buy locally, you can count on that business completely. With local crawfish, Tran says he can see the ponds first hand and get to know the person he's buying from.
"You know you can count on them. They're reliable and they're able to provide this service to you locally. They're literally down the road. You don't have to go searching for them," Tran mentioned. "It's pretty important to have that person who can always supply to you. You can count on them."
Tran says he's even been out to one of the crawfish ponds to take an up close and personal look at the product. He went right down the road from his restaurant on Jane's Street with a local fisherman. He said the whole experience was pretty neat seeing exactly where the crawfish come from.
Now tell me about the food.
Jane's is taking a different approach to seafood by introducing Cajun-Asian fusion to their menu. The trend has been growing throughout the area for some time.
Though on the surface Cajun and Asian food may seem as different as night and day, their similar main ingredients, such as rice, spices and seafood make these two a fantastic pairing. Tran is quite pleased with the response he's seen at Jane's, especially to their crawfish fried rice.
"It's crawfish tails, fried rice with mixed vegetables - onions, green onions, eggs and a little bit of spice to really give it that Cajun kick with an Asian flair in it. It's been good. It's been a really good item for us," Tran said.
If that isn't enough to make your mouth water, Jane's also serves boiled crawfish, crawfish fettuccine and a crawfish etouffee over fried or grilled catfish fillets.
So when does the season start?
According to WeLoveCrawfish.com you'll be able to find crawfish springing back onto the market around mid-January, depending on how cold or mild winter will be this season. Still, even if Jack Frost pays south Louisiana a visit, if the weather warms up quickly crawfish season can pick back up as well, just in time for the lenten season.
"Our peak season, you know when it really gets good is typically February, March and April, May," Tran said.
Typically the season lasts until early July. Between those months visit one of Louisiana's many crawfish festivals to get a real good taste of how plentiful the season has been. Breaux Bridge, the "Crawfish Capital of the World" holds a crawfish race each year paired with every sort of crawfish you can imagine. Boudin, bisque, etouffee, jambalaya, pie, or just plain boiled crawfish all make an appearance at these festivals each year.