Crawfish season

Crawfish season happens every year from around the first of March through the beginning of summer. Many Gulf Coast residents enjoy the season with backyard boils or restaurant events, but some may not know where these tiny lobster-like creatures are raised.

Restaurants like Katy Cajun Seafood get crawfish from a variety of vendors straight from Louisiana, said General Manager Marco Alvarado.

"The process for picking out crawfish plays out over a 24-hour period," he said. "They'll pick it out by Friday and within 24 hours it will be delivered to restaurants. We bring in shipments three times a week to keep up with demand."

Alvarado said his restaurant sells about 1,000 pounds of crawfish per week on average, but that number can rise up to 1,500 pounds on busier weeks. He said the demand was noticeably more intense this year because cold weather has made crawfish shipments smaller so far.

"The weather this year has been really odd," he said. "People are asking where the crawfish are and are getting desperate for them. We expect shipments to become more consistent over the next few weeks."

The process

Crawfish are typically farm-raised on rice fields in a process that plays out over the course of a year.

From rice crop to the bucket

Farmers plant rice crop from late spring to the beginning of summer.

Seed stock, a natural crop of crawfish, which mostly comes from the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana, is put into the flooded rice field mid-summer.

The field water is drained and crawfish begin to burrow in the ground in late summer.

Rice is harvested in late summer or early fall. At this time crawfish have burrowed underground to begin their reproductive cycle.

After the rice has been harvested, farmers re-flood the rice field, and crawfish come out of the ground with their babies mid-fall.

Baited wire traps are placed in the field between the end of fall and mid-winter—some farmers use 10 traps per acre.

Crawfish harvest can begin in November or as late as January.

Crawfish season occurs when they are market size—around 10 to 12 per pound—and runs from the beginning of March to late June.

Upcoming crawfish festivals

Crawfish Festival at No Label

Hosted by No Label Brewing Co., the event on March 30 features live music and lots of crawfish courtesy of Texas Mesquite Grill. Performers include Runaway Sun and the Bourbon Street Band. Noon–6 p.m. $5 (free for children 10 and under). No Label Brewing Co., 5351 First Street, Ste. A, Katy. www.nolabelbrew.com/events

Pearland Crawfish Festival

The festival, April 4–6, features food, music on three stages, and rows of vendors selling crafts, gifts and more food. Musical performances include Jesse Roach from American Idol and the blues band Brad Absher and Swamp Royale. The event benefits the Pearland, Alvin and Fort Bend school districts and the Houston Blues society. 11 a.m.–10 p.m. (April 4, 5), 11 a.m.–6 p.m. (April 6). $8, $21 (three day pass), free for children 12 and under and military personnel with ID.

281-802-2776. www.pearlandcrawfishfestival.com

Texas Crawfish Music Festival

The event focuses heavily on the live music aspect, which will be headlined by the Charlie Daniels Band. Other acts include Kevin Fowler, Los Lonely Boys and Whiskey Myers. Food, drink, carnival rides, petting zoo and vendors are also a part of the festival. 6 p.m.–midnight (April 25, May 2), noon–midnight (April 26, May 3), noon–8 p.m. (April 27, May 4). $13 (online), $15 (at the gate), $10 (April 25 only), free (children 12 and under). Old Town Spring off Aldine Westfield Road.

www.texascrawfishfestival.com

Beer pairings

No Label Ridgeback Ale

"Crawfish can have a spicy flavor. The sweetness and maltiness of this beer can cut through the spiciness, which is refreshing."

—Jennifer Royo,

No Label Brewing Co.

Abita Amber Lager

"They make it in Louisiana and their whole line goes really well with crawfish, especially the Abita Amber. The Amber has more wheat, which evens out the flavor."

—Marco Alvarado,

Katy Cajun Seafood

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.