Crayfish à la Nage

Serves 4-6
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This is a classic French way of cooking crayfish in a fragrant court bouillon. The court bouillon can be varied but the main fragrance comes from aniseed-flavoured herbs and spices like fennel, star anise and dill. Use this method of cooking for most crayfish dishes as they can be quite tasteless cooked in salted water. I highly recommend adding beer instead of wine.

This is a classic French way of cooking crayfish in a fragrant court bouillon. The court bouillon can be varied but the main fragrance comes from aniseed-flavoured herbs and spices like fennel, star anise and dill. Use this method of cooking for most crayfish dishes as they can be quite tasteless cooked in salted water. I highly recommend adding beer instead of wine.

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped, or 4 shallots
2 or 3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
12 white peppercorns
1 glass of white wine
A few sprigs of thyme
A handful of parsley leaves and stalks
2 bay leaves
2tsp fennel seeds or a couple star anise
1tbsp salt
36 crayfish or more if you are feeling indulgent

Put all the ingredients except the crayfish into a pan with a couple of litres of water or what you estimate is enough to cover the crayfish. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Ideally this should be left overnight to infuse and then re-boiled when ready to use.

Add the crayfish to this nage and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Take them out and serve hot in a bowl with some of the court bouillon strained over them and scatter with a few sprigs of dill or dill flowers. Mayonnaise mixed with chopped dill and a shot of aquavit would be the perfect accompaniment. Finger bowls would be useful.

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