The Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans that can be found all over the United States. The ones that come from the Louisiana area and the west coast states are considered to be the best eating. The Louisiana area is the largest producer of crawfish and most of those are consumed locally. They can be found under names such as crayfish, crawdad, creek crab, yabbies, mudbugs and freshwater lobster. Northern regions of the United States most often use the term crayfish. The southern states usually call them crawdads or crawfish.
Louisiana supplies 85-95 percent of the total crawfish in the United States. In North America there are over 330 different species but of those there are only two main species that are commercially important, the red swamp crawfish and the white river crawfish. Harvesting and farming of the red swamp crawfish is far larger than that of the white river crawfish. In the wild they are normally found in unpolluted running water like small brooks and streams. Crayfish, or crawfish look like miniature lobsters, which they are closely related to. They range in size from 1-16 inches and average 5 inches in length. They can be purchased fresh, frozen or cooked. Often they are found cooked and spiced. If purchased live they can be kept live on ice for up to 24 hours. Before cooking live ones soak them in saltwater for about 20 minutes to rid them of any dirt. You will get about 2-3 ounces of meat for every pound of whole crayfish. You should allow about 2-3 pounds of whole crayfish per person. If using just the tails allow 1 pound for three servings. Crayfish has a sweet taste similar to lobster but not quite as rich. The best way to cook crayfish is to steam, boil or sauté.