Crawfish bisque is another Louisiana classic and a real must-eat if you're anywhere near New Orleans. The flavor profile is rich and savory, full of all the complex, earthy flavors of the The Big Easy.
The process of making authentic crawfish bisque is time and labor intensive, and is often turned into a family affair. Like making tamales at Christmas, or dim sum, every culture seems to have a dish like this. One that is simultaneously simple and complex and made more delicious when cooked with your loved ones for special occasion meals. This crawfish bisque recipe is just such a dish.
Every part of the crawfish is used in the masterpiece. The tails are shelled and the meat reserved for the stuffing and the soup. The shells are boiled and blended for stock for the bisque. The cleaned out shell heads are stuffed with a tasty seasoned crawfish mixture, baked and then the stuffed heads are served in the creamy bisque.
I've simplified the process a bit and modified for those of us who use crawfish tail meat more often than the full crawfish experience. But I've kept the flavors and textures consistent with my memories of this remarkable dish. Instead of cleaning and stuffing heads, we make the same savory stuffing, but shape it into mini crawfish cakes that we quickly pan fry and serve like crispy floating islands of crawfish croutons in each bowl of soup.
Now that's an island I'd like to be shipwrecked on anytime.
What you'll need to make crawfish bisque with crispy crawfish cakes recipe :
- butter and neutral oil
- panko breadcrumbs
- crawfish tail meat
- yellow onions
- green bell pepper
- fresh garlic
- Old Bay Seasoning
- all purpose flour
- tomato paste
- crawfish stock (or seafood stock)
- bay leaves
- heavy cream
- fresh parsley
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Step by step instructions for this recipe:
To begin, assemble the crispy crawfish cakes. Add ½ cup onion, ½ cup celery and 3 tablespoons green onions to the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt butter and add minced vegetables, along with minced garlic cloves. Saute until tender and fragrant - about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
When cooled, combine the vegetables with breadcrumbs, chopped crawfish tails, beaten egg and Old Bay Seasoning in a mixing bowl. Combine gently but thoroughly. Scoop rounded tablespoon-sized crawfish cakes onto a baking sheet. You should have 20-24 cakes.
Return large skillet to burner over medium. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When hot, add crawfish cakes in a single layer, being sure not to crowd the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. Turn in the pan and and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan onto a rack over a cookie sheet to drain any excess oil. Keep the crispy crawfish cakes in a warm oven while preparing soup.
Next, prepare the creamy crawfish bisque. Combine the oil and flour in a heavy, large Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir the roux periodically and continue to cook until it reaches a medium to dark roux state - about the color of peanut butter. This will take about 10-14 minutes.
Add diced onion, green peppers, celery and garlic cloves to the pot of roux. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook until tender and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add scallions, tomato paste, crawfish or seafood stock, 2 bay leaves and Old Bay Seasoning. Bring the bisque to a simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes.
Taste and adjust seasoning. If you want a mostly smooth bisque, remove the pot of soup from the heat and use an immersion blender, being careful not to splash the hot soup.
Return the pot of soup to the heat and add crawfish tails and cream. Stir to combine and allow the tails to heat through.
Ladle bisque into shallow soup bowls. Top with 3 crispy crawfish cake croutons, diced green onions and reserved crawfish tails. Serve with hot sauce and crusty bread.
FAQ's and Serving Suggestions for Crawfish Bisque recipe:
Old Bay and creole seasoning brands often contain small amounts of peppers to add mild spice. If you're looking for more heat, add a half teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the bisque, and a pinch to the crawfish cakes. Red pepper flakes are always a great option, and I like to serve the bisque with a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce so everyone at the table can customize their bowl.
Traditionally, this soup is served with a scoop of buttered, white long-grain rice in the bowl. With the crispy crawfish cakes, I often skip the buttered rice and serve the bisque with a crawfish pie and gazpacho salad. And crusty bread is a must-have to dip into this soup.
Plain breadcrumbs will have less texture and flavor, so add an extra pinch of salt and pepper. Homemade breadcrumbs can also be substituted if you have odds and ends of a bread loaf squirreled away in the freezer. (No? That's just me? Disregard.)
Shrimp is an excellent substitute for crawfish meat and I've used it to make this soup (and crawfish pie) several times. I generally buy medium shrimp and chop them for the cakes and leave them whole for the bisque.
If cooking for pescatarians, vegetable stock is your best option. For non-pescatarians, you can use six cups water and chicken stock cubes.
To store, transfer bisque to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat by adding to a few tablespoons of stock, if needed, and warming over medium heat.
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Check out some of our other delicious seafood recipes next:
- Grilled Argentinian Red Shrimp with Pistacchio Chimicurri
- Sauteed Calamari with Roasted Garlic,Feta and Red Chili