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Holiday Crayfish Bisque

18 January 2012 in Holiday Food

Recently a bunch of us were fortunate enough to spend some holiday time with old friends at their cottage in Birah in the Eastern Cape (about 40kms from Port Alfred).

Where the holidays happen

We’ve all been friends for many years and when we get together we tend to drink too much, eat too much and laugh a lot! This year was no exception.

You can't beat a sundowner on the beach, Wally & Karlene, Charlie & Ermie, Annie & Jimmy

My name for this blog came about because one of our friends Karlene, (in the blue dress) is a very talented cook and on our previous holidays I would always be her assistant, her Sous/Sue Chef. Some years back Charlie and Ermie’s (whose cottage it is) son had a civil wedding while we were all at Birah (the real wedding was held later) Karlene and Wally suggested that we launch our boat on the Cowie River and fish for crabs to make bisque for the impromptu reception we were holding for the young couple. So we all had a wonderful day catching crabs, we caught loads and when we were driving back I asked why all the boats on the river had orange stickers? Those were the licenses that we didn’t have, had we been caught they would have confiscated our boat, a fact Wally conveniently forgot to mention! The crab bisque was so good we were fighting over the leftovers the next day.

This year Karlene arrived with some crayfish and it just so happened that her son Reg had caught fish, so there was no hesitation, seafood evening coming up!

Freshly caught fish

Karlene is a pro at filleting fish and she was even happier when she realized I had taken my knives and sharpening steel with. The fillets were later fried in beer batter and served with a homemade tartar sauce.

Karlene expertly fillets the fish

Before you read any further, this is not an exact recipe, more a method *embarrassed cough*…..blame the G & T’s for my lousy note taking. I could phone Karlene and ask but I’d put money on the fact that she won’t remember quantities either! :)

"I see no ships...."

In the meantime we needed the fish heads for the stock. Karlene roughly chopped some onion, carrot and celery, added water and the simmered everything for one and a half hours and then sieved the stock.  Next, she finely chopped some more onions and fried them in some butter, she added flour and cooked it a little, then she poured in the stock and 2 tins of condensed tomato soup. In the meantime she had cooked the crays for 6 minutes in boiling water.

The cooked crayfish

About this time we got another refill and started shredding the meat off the fish heads, you would be amazed how much we got. Then it was all added to the soup along with the shredded crayfish and some cream. It was awesome, awesome soup, we fed 12 and there was still enough for lunch the next day, when it tasted even better!

Crayfish Bisque

It’s amazing what you can do in a holiday home, with limited pots and pans, no blenders, good ingredients and a natural cook like Karlene.

We gathered around the fire most nights

I would love to be round the fire right now, listening to the banter and backing our chairs away because the boys were having a pyrotechnic moment!