Australian Yabbies: A Guide to Preparation

Yabbie preparation for live yabbies from Australia I impulsively purchased some from the Sydney Fish Markets, and I learned the hard way that they were not fresh.

I am starting to write this post before I actually do the deed of cooking the live yabbies that we bought this morning at the Sydney Seafood Markets. We went to the Sydney Seafood Markets this morning. I approached this undertaking with a lot of enthusiasm and the assumption that it wouldn't have any impact on me. I am wrong

I have a deep and abiding love for all animals. I am unable to watch movies starring Lassie or Benji. When Sam became infected and died in "I Am Legend" (please feel free to substitute any other movie with a plot line similar to this one), I sobbed my eyes out. I do not kill spiders; rather, I move them to safer locations, and I keep bees out of the house. When a possum, goanna, blue tongue lizard, or any other animal, bird, or reptile makes an appearance in my backyard, I get as excited as a child of five years old.

yabbies 3

I am not a vegetarian I adore cows; not only do I think they are a beautiful animal with enormous brown eyes, but I also think they taste wonderful when cooked to medium and topped with a flavorful béarnaise sauce. Although I acknowledge and am okay with the fact that humans kill animals for food, I take strong exception to the practice of killing an animal for the sole purpose of entertainment, because it irritates you or because you want to get your kicks.

I have been to restaurants where you can stroll around and pick out your own live seafood, and the restaurant will then prepare it for you. This is a little different than what I was expecting, but I can't quite put my finger on why.

I have only had the yabbies in the house for about an hour, but they are currently residing in the kitchen in an esky that has a small amount of water in it, and I am already beginning to feel attached to them. Crazy, I know When I look into the esky in the kitchen, there is one particular guy who always looks up at me, and I can't help but notice him. It's as if he's trying to say, "Hey, I'm a really nice guy, and the two of us could live together quite happily." I am extremely low-maintenance and would make the ideal companion animal. I beg you, do not consume me. Esky Yabbies

On the other hand, he might be looking up at me every time and saying, "Hey, bitch, I'm going to get you before you get me" while simultaneously hatching a plot for his great escape.

Now that I have your attention, each of you is probably wondering why on earth I would buy live yabbies, ya ning nong. However, I was only able to locate them in their raw form, and I have never before seen anything other than the cooked ones. These crustaceans should be eaten as soon as they are cooked because, similar to other types of crayfish and crabs, I believe that after being cooked and allowed to sit for some time, they begin to lose their natural sweetness and flavor.

Also, I don't think there is a very high demand for cooked yabbies like there is for crabs and lobsters, and as a result, the turnover probably wouldn't be as high for cooked yabbies. I am able to purchase yabbie meat in a jar similar to how crab meat is sold, but I wanted the whole yabbie. My only choice was to continue living. But what is the best way to prepare live Australian yabbies?

Since quite some time, I've harbored the desire to test them out in the comfort of my own home. I have consumed foods that contained yabbies, but I have never actually consumed a whole yabbie before. yabbies 2 Esky Yabbies

Now that I have decided to cook them, I am trying to think of a method that will cause them (and me) the least amount of stress as is humanly possible.

Option 1: Put in the freezer for twenty minutes to put them to sleep, then drop them into water that is rapidly boiling.

Option 2: Steve Manfredi suggests in an article he wrote in 2005 that you place them in the refrigerator for an hour or so to make them sluggish and sleepy, then drop them into the rapidly boiling water. He says this will make them more likely to digest their food.

Option 3: To put them to sleep, empty a bag of ice into the cooler, and then immediately plunge them into a pot of water that is rapidly boiling.

In the Cook's Companion, Stephanie Alexander asserts that "yabbies cannot be alive and screaming as they hit the hot cooking liquid." If they are, they will flail about and struggle, and even if one ignores the possibility of psychological trauma being caused to the cook, the yabby flesh runs the risk of becoming paste-like. Before you cook the yabbies, put them in the refrigerator for about an hour so that they can go to sleep in the cold. They will fall into the cooking liquid and perish instantly, without experiencing any pain and without any deterioration in condition.

Good God If reading about the thrashing and screaming wasn't enough to convince me, I continued reading what she had to say. She said that because the yabbies one buys have already been purged, there is not much grit in the intestines of the yabbies. It is common practice in Europe to extract the intestinal thread of freshwater crayfish by twisting it out of a live creature, which is held firmly while this bit of torture is taking place... I will not be torturing my little guys; instead, I will put them to sleep with cold.

I then consulted my culinary bible, the "Larousse Gastronomique," but to my surprise, yabbies were not mentioned anywhere in the book. This is understandable given that "yabbie" is a term used in Australia. I looked in the crayfish section because yabbies are a type of crayfish that lives in freshwater in Australia. There are many delicious recipes, but there is no indication of how to cook the food in a responsible manner.

Before beginning the cooking process, I made the decision to use two different methods to sedate them. One batch was stored in the refrigerator for longer than two hours. It will take longer than an hour because after an hour they were still scheming about how to escape the situation.

After that, I put the remaining portion in the freezer for twenty minutes. In reality, it took them closer to 35 minutes before they could be considered "asleep."

The Preparation of

It was finally time to put them in the oven. I had a large pot with a heavy base full of water that was boiling with some salt added to it. When it reached a rapid boil, it was time to turn it off.

Junior and I were examining the yabbies to determine whether or not they were prepared for the stew, and they all appeared to be very submissive. I, on the other hand, had already instructed Mac to go to the liquor store and purchase another bottle of wine, and I was nervously pacing around the kitchen at the time.

The yabbies that are currently stored in the refrigerator were the first batch that I cooked. The refrigerator method was successful despite all of the yabbies being asleep.

fridge yabbies Fridge Yabbies

As soon as I take them out of the refrigerator, I put as much effort as I can into getting them into the pot as soon as I can. I don't want them to get comfortable and start waking up. Some of them do begin to however. When they finally do reach the water, they naturally bring the temperature down, putting an end to my rapid boil. I am in a state of panic because I do not want them to endure as much pain as I am able to. It took what felt like an eternity for the water to return to a full boil after it had been simmering. In this particular pot, I was preparing seven yabbies.

Yes, they do shift around in the pot when they are first placed there. Reflexes The rude awakening was a rude shock. Nervous system attempting to free oneself from the scalding liquid so as to preserve one's life (okay, there wasn't much of a mad dash in the traditional sense) Some of them exhibited these cute little wiggles, which resulted in the release of air bubbles and eventually caused them to turn orange. At this point, I wished I had a lid that was not made of glass. I could have used that.

They don't require very much time in the oven at all. You only need three minutes at a rolling boil to finish. I was prepared to stop the cooking process by plunging them into a sink full of ice and water, which I had at the ready. While I sent Junior downstairs to the deep freeze to retrieve the other lot, the first batch sat there and got some rest in there.

cooking yabbies
Yabbies Cooking

During this time, I switched the pots I was using to a different large one that didn't have a heavy base on it. I did this in the hopes that the water would return to a boil more quickly than the previous time.

The following group was Junior's, and there were eight people in this one. Out of the batch of yabbies stored in the freezer, all but one were resting. The one that I believe has been watching me all afternoon is currently perched atop the others. He is still looking up at me and is barely moving; he is a resolute little fighter. These guys went back into the water for the second round incredibly quickly. Before they entered the water, one couple did awaken a little bit more than the group that came before them. I proceeded forward, and one by one, they were placed in the pot.

Junior was patting the ones that had been in the sink to cool already dry, and as soon as the new batch was finished cooking, it was added to the sink as quickly as possible.

In my opinion, the approach using the refrigerator was more successful than the one using the freezer.

The Eating

We plated them up with one side coming from the refrigerator and the other one coming from the freezer. I was curious to find out if there was anything that distinguished the yabbies from one another.

The yabbies that had been stored in the freezer had a distinct texture compared to those that had been stored in the refrigerator; they were more ridged.

The yabbies from the refrigerator and the yabbies from the freezer had the same flavor. None of them were chewy, which was a relief, and I say that more for the simple fact that they did not stress than for anything else.

The flavor was delightful. Flavor is not overly sweet and is relatively mild, much like that of their larger relatives.

I served them with a selection of mayonnaises, including saffron mayonnaise, lemon mayonnaise, and a pesto made with basil and macadamia nuts. The pesto was too robust to complement the subtle flavor of the yabbies, and the saffron mayonnaise was the crowd favorite.

In the end, Junior and I each only had one, and I only had a few. By the time everything was over, neither one of us was quite as hungry as we had been at the beginning of the process. They had a wonderful flavor, so that wasn't the issue. On the other hand, Mac adored them and gobbled up each and every one of them.

The Whole of the Felt Experience

The process of getting them onto the plate was more challenging for me than I had anticipated it would be when we first bought them at the local markets that morning. It was that stage in which I assumed the role of God that I believe caused me some difficulty. I am relieved that someone else will be doing the "dirty work," but I feel terrible about saying that. Nevertheless, I was able to complete the task, and it's funny how that gives me a mixed feeling of pride and, hmm, I'm not really sure what else to call it, but it's a strange sensation nonetheless.

I only had three of them, which is the same as having three prawns, as I mentioned earlier. To some people's amusement, I wound up supplementing dinner with some reheated frozen pizza that had been left over from the previous night.

Would I go through with it again? I am unable to provide a definitive yes or no answer to that question. The verdict on that matter has not yet been reached, but we will not be celebrating Easter with them on the following Sunday as was initially planned because I need a little bit more time.

Sara xxx

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