Sweden is well-known for being surrounding by thousands of small islands (or archipelagoes). These archipelagos begin in the far north in the Swedish Lapland, wrap around the coastline of the deep south and stretch up the west coast.
About an hour west of Gothenburg, you’ll reach the gorgeous west coast Swedish archipelago known for fishing villages, beaches and bathing spots. I have been staying on the small island of Lilla Kornö where mostly Swedish families come to spend their summer.
One morning, I was invited out for a proper Swedish crayfishing experience.
To be honest, I had no idea what I was in store for. Back home, I’d heard the argument over whether they’re called crayfish or crawfish, but I’ve never actually seen or eaten crayfish in Southern California.
I have long identified these tasty little crustaceans with cookouts in the South of the US, but didn’t know they could be found in the ocean! In the US, they’re a freshwater creature but, here on the west coast of Sweden, we had to sail out to sea.
I was excited for a new foodie experience!
We stocked the boat with frozen fish bits (yum!) and set off to harvest our catch-of-the-day from crayfish traps (or pots as they call them) that were resting over 100 feet below the surface.
Large orange balloon-type buoys marked the ends of the rope that we would have to pull up to get the pots.
Luckily, a motorized contraption did most of the work and, soon enough, we had the first crayfish pot above deck. I could see crabs and crayfish wiggling about inside the pot. The crayfish were tossed into a bucket and the crabs were sent back to sea.
After pulling up all the pots, we had 19 of the little cray crays in our bucket!
We re-baited the pots with the frozen fish bits and sent them back to the bottom of the ocean. In a few days, we could return to see if we had caught more.
A few things I learned about crayfishing:
- You don’t want crabs in the pots because they’ll eat the crayfish.
- Crayfish like to live in the cold, muddy parts of the ocean floor.
- Crayfish and crabs WILL pinch you. And it hurts. So move fast!
- You WILL get wet and most likely muddy.
I think I got in the way more than I actually helped, but it was fun to see a long-time Swedish tradition. We brought the crayfish back home and went straight to work in the kitchen. Just like with lobster, they’re boiled, but we finished them off in the oven with butter in garlic.
Words cannot describe how amazing the kitchen smelled!
We paired the meal with fresh vegetables picked straight from the garden and a local, organic wine. The table was lined with a simple tablecloth and decorated with fresh herbs and candlelight.
As for the crayfish? They were so fresh you could still taste the salt from the ocean. The buttery texture was similar to lobster and just as delicious.