How to cook crayfish the Swedish way

The Swedes eats about 5 million kilos of crayfish every year. In Sweden a crayfish party is a traditional ending of summertime, a crayfish party is called a kräftskiva in Swedish. Eating crayfish is a tradition that goes back to the 1500s in Sweden, but the Swedish people started eating crayfish as they are eaten today, cookt with dill, in the mid 1800s. Crayfish parties are generally held during August or September, this is because the crayfish harvest in Sweden during 1900s was legally limited to the late summer.

Crayfish cookt in dill. Photo by All about Sweden

Crayfish are always eaten cold, with your fingers, at a kräftskiva. At a crayfish parties schnapps usually served as a beverage and the crayfish is eaten together with a typical Swedish cheese pie ”västerbottenpaj”. The crayfish are boiled, the day before serving, in salt water, beer and seasoned with crown dill.

How to boil crayfish:

You will need

  • 2 kg live crayfish
  • 1 large bunch of dill crowns (flower heads)
  • 330 ml dark beer, porter or stout
  • 1 tsp anise (aniseed)
  • 4 litres water
  • 200 g salt
  • 3 tsp sugar

Rinse the live crayfish carefully in cold water. Boil the water, beer, sugar, salt, anise and half of the dill, let it boil for 5 minutes.

Put half the crayfish, head first, in the boiling water. Put the lid on quickly. When it boils again, let the crayfish cook for another 5 minutes until the crayfish turn a bright red colour. Pick up the crayfish. Repeat the proceeding for the remaning half of the crayfish.

When you have finished cooking the crayfishes, carefully pour the hot cooking liquid into a bucket with the cooked crayfish and add the rest of the dill. Let cool of for 2 hours, leave the crayfish in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to serve the crayfish remove them from the liquid, garnish with dill crowns.