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crawdaddies on the brain

Recipe: crawfish phyllo triangles

I’ve had this recipe in the back of my head for well over ten years. Jeremy and I were driving from Ithaca, New York down to Virginia to visit with my parents way back in the late 90s when we stopped by my friend’s house in Washington DC along the way. I lived in northern Virginia for one year during high school and became close friends with Emily. It was nice to see her parents again (I love them, they are the sweetest people) and introduce them to Jeremy for the first time. While we chatted, Emily’s mom – the consummate hostess – presented us with a platter of hot, crispy phyllo triangles filled with… crawdads. Crawdads (crayfish) are these delicious freshwater critters that look like small lobsters and are practically religion on the Gulf. Mmmmm, mmmm, good.

crawdads, onions, celery, and spices, parsley and green onions

I never did get a recipe, but this sort of thing isn’t too hard to throw together – if you have crawdads. I found some frozen cooked crawdad meat in the store the other day. This was about as close as I was gonna get to it out here in the Rockies. I instinctively grabbed the package and chucked it into my basket. Crawdad phyllo triangles would be perfect to round out our holiday menu of maritime indulgences.

sauté onions, celery, and spices in butter

add the crawdads and greens

To be perfectly honest, I would be happy to stuff any sort of seafood (well, almost any sort – I’ve tried sea cucumber and believe that is an acquired taste) into buttery layers of phyllo dough. They are great for entertaining, except on Christmas day, we were entertaining ourselves and no others. More for us – hee hee.

brush butter and fold, brush more butter and fold again

Once you get the hang of phyllo sheets, triangles are pretty easy to master. I butter half of a sheet, fold it on the long axis, then butter half again and fold it on the long axis once more.

ready to roll, er – fold

You fold triangles up like a flag or like those paper footballs that 8th graders invariably made in the classroom. It’s a forgiving fold too – because any bits that squish or ooze out can be tucked in and folded over and covered up. I usually drop a tablespoon of filling on the corner.

fold up the precious goodness

all set to go into the oven

This batch yields approximately 26 triangles. While we both enjoyed the triangles, there was a part of me that felt the filling was wanting for… for more heat or tang or umph. I based the filling on a crawdad turnover filling from Emeril’s Louisiana Real & Rustic. Having grown up on the Chesapeake Bay, I suspect that what I wanted was Old Bay Seasoning, something that blesses all good steamed Chesapeake blues (crabs). Perhaps next time I’ll put a Chesapeake spin on it.

serve hot and crispy

Crawfish Phyllo Triangles
modified from Crawfish Turnovers in Louisiana Real & Rustic by Emeril Lagasse
[print recipe]

1 lb. crawfish tails, peeled and cooked
1 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsps salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp paprika
1/2 stick butter
3 tbsps parsley, chopped
3 tbsps green onions, chopped
2 tbsps Worcestershire sauce
1/2 lb. phyllo dough sheets, thawed
1 cup butter, melted

Mix the onions, celery, salt, cayenne, and paprika in a bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the seasoned vegetables until soft and brown. Add the crawfish and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add the parsley, green onions, and Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Let cool. To make each triangle, set one sheet of phyllo on a clean work surface and brush melted butter on half of the sheet lengthwise. Fold the phyllo on its long axis in half. Brush melted butter on half of the phyllo lengthwise again, and fold on the long axis once more. You should have a long narrow strip of phyllo with 4 layers. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling on one corner of the strip and begin folding the dough over the filling like a flag. Continue folding until the dough is completely wrapped around the filling. Brush a little butter on the end to seal it down. Place triangles on a baking sheet so they are not touching one another. Bake at 375°F for 18-20 minutes. Serve hot.

30 nibbles at “crawdaddies on the brain”

  1. Monica says:

    Just stumbled onto your website from tastespotting – it’s beautiful! And I will definitely try these crayfish phyllos. I’m from the south but live in Sweden now where crayfish are VERY popular. My in-laws will love this dish. Now I’m off to cruise the rest of your site. Happy New Year!

  2. Glenna says:

    Oh wow! Those look fantastic! I can smell and taste them now. Will have to try that recipe soon. Great photos too. Thanks for the play by play on that one.

  3. peabody says:

    Mmmm, those look good. I am in charge of the cold dish for NYE, otherwise I think I would bring these!

  4. Kevin says:

    I have never had crayfish but these look and sound really delicious! I will have to see if I can find some crayfish.

  5. Ashley says:

    Those look great! Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll have the patience to do something like that anytime soon!

  6. Curt says:

    Those look great.. but when I get crawfish, I can’t seem to do anything but do a boil and eat them that way… I just don’t get them often enough in Ohio!

  7. Rosa says:

    OMG, they look wonderful! Ever so tempting!

    I am always in awe in front of your mindblowing pictures…

    Cheers and Happy New Year!


  8. veron says:

    They look mighty tasty and your pictures are wonderful!

  9. Chris says:

    Wow – these look wonderful. The step by steps are fabulously helpful. Thanks! Happy New Year!

  10. Lynn says:

    Yum, yum, yum! That looks like a delightful and tasty treat.

  11. Elle says:

    These look soooo good…love the spice combo and the crisp filo paired with the soft filling. Happy New Year!

  12. Gigi says:

    What a perfect New Years Eve appetizer. So delicious looking!

  13. Candace says:

    Beautiful blog! Lovely pictures too!

  14. clumsy says:

    Wow, those look delicious!

    I didn’t know that crawdads were different from shrimp… thank you for the info. Now I really want to head south and try them!

  15. Katie says:

    MMMM! These look soooo tasty.

    Thanks for the nice comments about my yule log! Yours looks absolutely beautiful, I like the mushrooms.

    Happy New Year!

  16. kellypea says:

    Oh. My. I do happen to have some shrimp in the freezer. We used to find crawdads in the ditch when I was growing up (cringe!) so I wouldn’t even know where to look for them now. And I can’t even remember the last time I used phyllo like this. You know, folded into those 8th grade footballs :D . And when I did, I think it was for a dessert. I can’t wait to mess around with these. YUM!

  17. Bellini Valli says:

    Wrap filo around anything and it has to be delicious. Living in Canada I cannot say I have seen any crawdads though, but, we do have plenty of crab and lobster as a great substitute!!We have crayfish, but I don’t think they are the same and I don’t know if they are actually edible. I had better GOOGLE that. I hope you have a wonderful New Year and I’ll look forward to many more delicious recipes in 2008 coming from “Use Real Butter”!!!

  18. Rachel says:

    Oh my goodness, these look amazing!! I’m from Annapolis, MD but my family lives in New Orleans – this sounds like a wonderful combination of the two. I can’t wait to try it!

  19. jenyu says:

    Monica – thanks for your sweet comment. I’ll bet the crawdads are amazing fresh. *sigh* I hope they work out for you!

    Glenna – you’re very welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

    Peabody – oh man, who is the lucky host who gets to receive your cooking?!?

    Kevin – I found mine in the frozen seafood aisle (and I live in Colorado). I’m sure you can find something around your neck of the woods. I guess if not, you can try subbing shrimp? Hell – you can put anything in phyllo dough – it’s ALL good :)

    Ashley – ha ha! I don’t have the patience anymore either, I used it all up on the phyllo triangles!

    Curt – oh, that’s because you get them fresh, I bet! *jealous* :)

    Rosa – thanks, you are such a gem.

    Veron – thank you :)

    Chris – happy new year to you too!!

    Lynn – it was pretty good, but I might try something a little spicier next time :)

    Elle – thanks and happy new year back at ya.

    Gigi – yes, phyllo triangles filled with *anything* makes a terrific appetizer!

    Candace – thanks :)

    Clumsy – yup, they are different, indeed. I love to watch them swim!

    Katie – happy new year to you too!

    Kellypea – Oh wow, you had crawdads in the ditch growing up?!? How cool! I used to catch blue crabs for fun when I was a kid and now I realize how *amazing* that was. No blue crabs to be found like that around here :(

    Bellini Valli – Oh yes!! crayfish are crawdads. Sorry – crawdads are a southern reference to crayfish. I hope you give them a try :) Happy new year to you and yours.

    Rachel – Lucky you! You get to eat fresh blue crabs from the bay AND visit family in New Orleans with all of that incredible gulf seafood?!!? I should be your best friend ;)

  20. Christine says:

    I’m always learning something new on your blog, Jen. I’ve only had crayfish in a wannabe creole restaurant. These phyllo triangles look like perfect party food. If I can get some crayfish, I’ll will certainly give these a try.

  21. monica says:

    oh this looks like a perfect appetizer! and what a tasty surprise for filo triangles…thanks for the inspiration! happy new year!

  22. african vanielje says:

    yum. crayfish for us South Africans are larger, like lobsters but still all looks delish. happy 2008

  23. jenyu says:

    Christine – I think I love crayfish because they look like mini lobsters and I have a fascination with miniature food ;) And that makes two of us, because I am always learning about amazing food on YOUR blog!

    Monica – happy new year!!

    AV – Larger?! Oh my, I think I need to visit South Africa :) I am a fan of all delicious seafoods, be they large or small – tee hee. yum. All the best to you in 2008 too.

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