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Barbequed Cape Otway Crayfish with lemon, garlic and chives

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The Southern Rock Lobster affectionately known in Australia as “crayfish” is an expensive delicacy.

There is a thriving crayfish industry based close by our beach house. The licensed fishermen take the sweet fleshed crayfish from the cold waters of the southern ocean off the Victorian south west coast during a season that spans from September to the beginning of May. Just so long as the month has an “R” in its name you can buy fresh never frozen crayfish.

If we’re up at dawn, we see the boats setting out to sea sitting high in the water then early in the afternoon we see them lumber back into harbour, rolling in the swell with weight of their haul. Sometimes they set their woven cane pots close to the rocky coast where the rock shelf drops off the shoreline leaving a bobbing trail of coloured buoys in their wake.

I feel privileged to be able to buy fresh locally caught cray. The meat is firm and tastes of the sea. Oversized crayfish, too big for the export market are often sold by the local fisherman’s co-op at a dramatically reduced per kilo price, but they’re so big they require an investment in excess of $AU300. One such specimen will comfortably feed six.

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We paid a premium price for our 1.2 kg crayfish for two. It was a birthday treat. I cooked my own birthday dinner this year and I spoiled myself and the chief taster to lobster and French champagne. We deserve it!!

I confess to being squeamish about despatching sea creatures, but I’m happy to look them in the eye after the deed is done and thank them for giving up their life to nourish me. I know from past experience that a very fresh cooked cray will stand up to being gently warmed on the BBQ without loss of flavour or texture. Bathing the flesh with unsalted cultured butter subtly flavoured with garlic, lemon and chives enhances the sweet crustaceous flavour and ensures it stays moist.

Why not just eat the crayfish cold? I my opinion the flavour of a fresh crayfish is greatly enhanced by gentle warming and because the meat relaxes, it is more tender. The claw and leg meat also separates from the shell more readily so not a morsel is wasted.
You need plenty of napkins, a finger bowl and an empty dish for pieces of shell if like me, you love to crack and suck each leg and claw, but the very best part is the fleshy meat from the body.

The following quantities for the butter is for two halves.

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1/2 crayfish per person
60g unsalted cultured butter
1 clove garlic, germ removed, then finely chopped
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Good grinding black pepper
2 pinches sea salt

Put the butter, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper into a small saucepan. Over a very low heat, warm the pot until the butter has melted and it’s gently sizzling. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
Split the crayfish in half lengthwise with a very sharp knife.
Remove the digestive tract and rinse out the head cavity.
Heat the BBQ grill to medium heat. Brush the cut surfaces of the crayfish halves with the garlic butter, place on the grill, cover the BBQ and heat the crayfish for about 10 minutes.
Brush the crayfish again with the butter and continue to gently cook until warmed through, roughly another 10 minutes.
Serve immediately.

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About ladyredspecs

I've led a long and varied existence cooking, teaching, nursing, travelling, photographing, writing, loving, laughing. Blogging is a wonderful reason to cook, write and photograph

18 comments on “Barbequed Cape Otway Crayfish with lemon, garlic and chives

  1. ohlidia
    February 21, 2014

    OMG!

  2. Fig & Quince
    January 17, 2014

    First of all, re the photography: wow! Particularly the first shot is so dramatic and intense and just wonderful to look at like a bold painting, love it.

    Second: I have not had it ever (I don’t think!) and now I most want to have a taste of it.

    • ladyredspecs
      January 17, 2014

      Thanks Azita, lobster is such a treat! I wish I was able to share the flavour as well as the pics.

  3. chef mimi
    January 16, 2014

    Oh my gawd these look good!

  4. dishnthekitchen
    January 15, 2014

    Oh man! that crayfish…I’m drooling too! You are super lucky to be near a fresh market like that and I’m totally with you on the dispatching…but a girl’s gotta eat!

    • ladyredspecs
      January 15, 2014

      Hah, your darn right. Never squeamish enough to become a vego!

  5. Haha…you and I are completely alike when it comes to seafood and being a touch squeamish. It’s a “mind over matter” thing for me, and one that is easily put aside as soon as the prepared seafood is in front of me. I love lobster.. this looks beautiful!!

    • ladyredspecs
      January 15, 2014

      I’d never make a hunter of any sort!! Always happy to prepare any bounty though……😃

  6. lonaj68
    January 14, 2014

    Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my chin. That looks amazing. It would be nice to be able to spoil oneself alot more than one does. Well done.

  7. Leah
    January 14, 2014

    oh wow! what an awesome pressie for yourself and it looks sensational!!! xx

    • ladyredspecs
      January 14, 2014

      It WAS sensational, the best I’ve ever had by a country mile. Fresh is definitely best! I should “spoil” myself more often!

  8. Eha
    January 14, 2014

    Gorgeous! Looks very much like what I would call ‘lobster’ up north [Central NSW that is :) !] Yes, I also am aware of pain and suffering for those we put on the table but there are ways and means to make it humanoid!! One of the most perfect foods on the planet ~ lucky those of us who can access . . . .

    • ladyredspecs
      January 14, 2014

      I agree wholeheartedly, lobster is one of the most perfect foods on the planet!! This one was splendidly fresh! Three times within a space of 2 hours I visited the co-op, I had to wait while the boats unloaded, the catch was sorted and made ready for export before mine could be cooked so I know it had only taken from the sea hours before.

      • Eha
        January 14, 2014

        May have been so long but I would have given quite a tad to be with you . . .

  9. Francesca
    January 14, 2014

    That is just not fair! How I yearn for a locally caught cray.

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2014 by in FODMAP Diet Friendly, Food, Gluten Free, Main Meals, Seafood Dishes and tagged , , .
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