A super tasty plague from the Green Heart

One of the greatest things about vacationing is discovering new products and dishes, isn’t it? Well, we don’t have to cross the border for that. Today let me take you to the Green Heart, and then to be precise – yes, put on your wellies – to the puddles, ditches, canals and bodies of water in this rural region. Look closely, what’s crawling beneath the surface? They look like crayfish.

Surprise: they are lobsters. The Dutch inland waterways are full of it, especially in the Green Heart. We are talking about the North American crayfish. They have colonized Dutch waters in such large numbers since the 1980s that they have largely driven out European crayfish. What also did not help, was the lobster plague that moved with it and wreaked havoc among the native species.

And now we are in our ditches with all those Americans. They are more or less a pest, especially in the summer months. Well, plague. Of course we can also just eat them, because they are super tasty. You can fish for it yourself, provided that with a fishing rod and not with a trap or basket, and provided that it is for your own consumption. But you can also order online, for example via the Facebook group ‘Crayfish from the Green Heart of the Netherlands’, or via foodbazar.nl.

In the kitchen you treat crayfish more or less the same as regular lobsters. You can kill them by cleaving them lengthwise, ie through the head, with a sharp knife. But I prefer to put them in a plastic bag in the freezer for two hours. Then they suffer less. Then they can be boiled, peeled and eaten (with melted butter, for example, or with homemade mayo). Still, after cooking, splitting the halves in half and grilling the halves on the barbecue is also a good idea.

In any case, what you should not do is throw away the heads and armor. You can make a fantastic broth from it. We do just that in today’s recipe. First turn it on in oil, then let it steep for about thirty minutes. And then we make a soup from that stock. Lobster soup from our own polder.

Polder lobster soup

For 4 persons:

1 kilogram of live crayfish;
4 tbsp olive oil;
100 g smoked bacon, in strips;
1 onion, chopped;
4 celery stalks, in arcs;
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped;
a few sprigs of thyme;
2 laurierblaadjes;
4 waxy potatoes, peeled, sliced;
400 ml + 2 tbsp whole milk;
(approximately) 1 tbsp cornflour;
½ bunch parsley, finely chopped

Also needed:
Plastic zak
Bowl with ice water

Stop the lobsters in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for 2 hours. Take them out and let them come to room temperature.

Bring Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add a tablespoon of salt and lower the crayfish into it. Boil them for 3 minutes. Take them out and place them in a bowl of ice water to stop them cooking.

Pel the crustaceans: Take the head between your thumb and forefinger and grasp the tail with the other hand. Squeeze the head very lightly while making a slight twisting and pulling motion with the other hand to release the tail. Cut open the tail armor on the back with scissors and remove it. A black stripe runs across the back of the lobster. Remove this intestinal tract.

heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a stockpot and add heads and shells. Let it cook for a few minutes on high heat. Add 1 liter of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let it steep for 30 minutes.

Schenk the stock through a sieve placed over a pitcher or bowl. Press as much juice as possible from the shells with a wooden spoon. You will be left with a beautiful coral red shellfish stock.

heat 2 tbsp olive oil again in the stockpot and fry the bacon crispy in it. Remove it from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Fruit fry the onion and celery for a few minutes. Add the garlic, thyme and bay leaf and sauté for another minute. Pour the stock into the pan. Add the potatoes and bring everything to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.

Schenk Add 400 milk to the soup and bring to the boil again. In a cup, stir the cornflour with the last 2 tbsp milk and add to the soup. Stir and let it cook for a while until the soup thickens. If the soup is still too thin, add some extra cornflour.

stir to the bacon strips, crayfish and parsley through the soup and season with salt and pepper.