Near End of Summer Party with Swedish Crayfish!

It’s August and summer is near a close, but the weather is still warm enough to actually sit outside, so Swedes are busting out their bibs for a Swedish crayfish (crawfish to you Southerners) party! It’s not well-known that outside Louisiana, Swedes love crayfish and have eaten them since the 16th century. In fact, before the 20th century, crayfish were reserved for the wealthy class, as this scary looking “animal” was considered a true delicacy. Nowadays, most crayfish are either imported from China or Louisiana since crayfish is a bit rare to find in Sweden. So if you actually find Swedish crayfish, they are usually incredibly expensive.

Today, crayfish are enjoyed by any class in the outdoors and are dill-infused and served with garlic bread, a strong cheese like Västerbotten (or even a Västerbotten cheese quiche called Västerbottenpaj) and some Swedish schnapps and/or beer to kick off the festivities. The summer table is adorned with paper lanterns that have smiling moons and stars. This is a rare occasion when Swedes get to eat with their hands, as well as act and look like children (see ridiculous bibs and hats). And if you haven’t heard a bunch of drunk, singing Swedes, here’s your chance. I guarantee that it is a surreal experience. They even have “song books” for just this occasion, and the normally quiet, reserved Swede will burst out in a jolly song with a tiny glass of herbal liquor in hand. Nice.

Most likely, you won’t find “live crayfish” in Toronto, but you can try these places for frozen crawfish/crayfish:
IKEA Swede Shop – They sell frozen crayfish already cooked the Swedish way. This is only available on a seasonal basis.
Diana’s Seafood Shop
Seafood Depot

If you must have “live crayfish”, there are a few places that ship them direct from Louisiana in the U.S. and sometimes you may have to pick them up at the airport if you’re THAT desperate!:
Louisiana Crawfish Co.
Tony’s Seafood

And finally, here’s a recipe for a true Swedish crawfish boil of the non-spicy kind! I believe you need to use live crayfish to follow these instructions precisely. I’ve read online that you should put pre-cooked crayfish the last 2-3 minutes of the boil. Therefore, I would basically skip the blanching part of this recipe, then put the cooked crayfish in the last 2-3 minutes of the boil to heat through and then follow the rest of the directions. By the way, Swedes eat their crayfish cold!
Swedish-style Dill Poached Crayfish

25-35 crayfish
8 qts water (or approx. 7.5 liters)
12 qts water (or approx. 11 liters)
2 cups salt
1 12 oz bottle of beer (or approx. 1.5 cups or 36 cl)
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 bunches dill and optional dill crowns

1. Bring the 8 quarts of water to a boil and blanch the crayfish for 2 minutes and then plunge them into ice water. Discard water.
2. Bring the 12 quarts of water, dill, salt, beer and sugar to a boil.
3. Add crayfish and cook for 5 minutes.
4. Remove crayfish and place in a container that can be sealed. Pour liquid over the crayfish, cover, and place in fridge for 24 hours.
5. Remove crayfish from liquid and serve cold.

And to be even more authentic, eat this savory, cheese pie if you can get your hands on Västerbotten cheese or one of its substitutes. This recipe from Anne’s Blog:

Västerbotten Cheese Pie Recipe

1 unbaked pie shell
3 eggs
300 ml cream
200 g shredded Västerbotten cheese, or any other sharp, tasty cheese like Parmesan Reggiano, Swiss Gruyere or Old Sharp Cheddar (or a mix if you’re feeling adventurous!)
pinch of cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (about 350 F.) Whisk together the eggs, cream, cayenne and cheese, and fill the pie shell. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the filling is set, and lightly golden. Serve with creme fraiche (see my recipe to make your own Creme Fraiche!), finely minced red onions and bleak roe. Or make a sauce from bleak roe (or lumpfish caviar or golden caviar), creme fraiche or yogurt, finely minced onions, a pinch of sugar, salt, some dill and black pepper.

Serve all of the above with hot garlic bread, a fresh salad (I love a fruit and goat cheese with mixed greens salad with this feast) and a good amount of Swedish schnapps, aquavit or champagne even!

As always, don’t forget to check out my Swedish Food in Toronto page.

Come and enjoy a traditional Swedish Crayfish party, I guarantee you’ll see Swedes act silly eating silly creatures. 🙂


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Categories: Swedish Culture, Swedish Food


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One Comment on “Near End of Summer Party with Swedish Crayfish!”

  1. August 8, 2014 at 4:29 pm #

    Reblogged this on the swede life in toronto and commented:

    Time to party with the crawdaddies! Swedish crayfish party at our place, August 24th for only $10/pp! See details here:

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