CAMPSITE COOKING AND WHAT TO DO WITH YOUR YABBIES
The best meals are the ones you catch, kill and prepare with your own hands. Not only do those actions stimulate the taste buds, but they provide a sense of satisfaction that can’t be achieved with food bought at the store. The abundance of yabbies in Australian freshwater means that when I’m camping and looking for a delicious meal, I often look no further than rustling up some rich yabbie recipes.
CATCHING THE YABBIES
Burrows along the bank of the river usually provide a good indicator or the presence of yabbies. I usually use cheap cat food as bait, but you can use some rotten fish you caught a couple of days before. Just line the bank with your tempting bait and wait for them to come.
In Australia, there are so many yabbies you don’t really need to set traps in rivers. Just wait and when they come out of their burrows to investigate you can swiftly grab them. Watch out for the pincers, they can give a nasty nip if you’re too slow. If you are not as keen as me, yabbie pots do a great job without requiring much attention. You can always use crabbing pots because they will do a good job.
Once I’ve collected my yabbies, I throw them in my esky filled with ice. When it comes to cleaning them if any are dead, I throw them away. Be careful where you dispose of them. Dead yabbies give off quite a stink and attract animals. Put them back in the water. They will be eaten by other crayfish in the river.
I rinse the remaining yabbies to remove all the mud and debris from them. The easiest way to do this is in the icebox if it can be easily drained. Rinsing them manually, one by one is much more time consuming and you run the risk of being nicked by the claws.
There are two ways to cook yabbies. One is over boiling water. Drop them in and boil them. The other way is to skewer them and cook them in front of a fire. To kill them, push a knife through the soft part behind the skull, then pull the central fin off the tail. This should remove all the waste gunk with it from the back of the animal.
Cook them until the colour is a bright red or orange colour. This should leave the meat inside nice and white. You can crack open the shell and eat them right there with some seasoning.
If you want to peel them, it’s best to do this while they are still warm. Just bend them backwards and break the body from the tail, then get rid of the body. There is meat in the claws but if I’m peeling a heap of yabbies, it isn’t worth messing about with the fiddly claws for the small amount of meat in there.
Crack the underside of the tail and remove the shell and mud vein. Then they are ready to eat. I usually melt some butter and drizzle it over them, with some lemon juice. You can also have them with eggs or use them in pasta or rice dishes as a prawn substitute.
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