My husband and I love seafood but we don’t get the opportunity to eat a lot of crayfish, if any at all. Not only is it frightfully expensive, but it’s not readily available in stores. When the prospect arose for us to “hopefully” get our hands on these little (or big) beauties, we jumped. Why I said “hopefully” is because it’s quite a mission diving for them and chances of a successful dive are not always guaranteed. There are difficulties such as heavy swells and poor visibility that affect the possibilities of a “fruitful” catch. Needless to say we were adamant that nothing would dampen our efforts so off we went to the Post Office to obtain our licenses. One license permits the license holder to remove only 4 crayfish from the ocean per day so between my husband, his son Byron (our designated crayfish catcher) and me we could remove 12 crayfish that day. We were eager and amped that we would be eating a large number of crayfish for dinner that night.
We set off for Soetwater just past Kommetjie to legally obtain our stash.
Our proficient crayfish diver Byron gearing up “solo” for the great catch. After about an hour and forty five minutes in the freezing ocean (albeit wetsuit), Byron made his way back to the rocky shore with two adults and a baby. The baby was later released. As I mentioned earlier, heavy swells and poor visibility made it an extremely difficult task, especially solo. After a good banter about the disappointing catch, we were at least grateful that we had a “starter” for dinner.
I have never made Thermidor sauce before but do know that it’s a rich, creamy sauce that is combined with the cooked meat of crayfish, covered in Parmesan cheese and grilled in the oven. Because of the small number of crayfish we had, I decided to make a very basic Thermidor sauce with brandy and capers. The following recipe will make about 350ml of Thermidor sauce, enough for 2 crayfish tails. You’ll need:
1 Onion finely chopped
2 Tbsp. capers roughly chopped or whole
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 stick (100g) real butter (Springbok unsalted)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
50ml Brandy or Sherry
50ml white wine
1 tub cream
Method: In a heavy saucepan, melt butter and gently simmer onion, capers and garlic. Add Dijon mustard and stir in well continuing to simmer. Add a bit more butter if needed. Add flour and mix in well. You should have a paste consistency. Add brandy and white wine and whisk continuously ensuring that lumps don’t form. Add tub of cream and whisk till smooth. Your sauce should now be thick and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in cooked, diced crayfish meat and return to shell and serve. If you have parmesan cheese or any other mature hard white cheese, sprinkle some over the top and grill in oven till golden brown.