Crayfish Bisque

A Crayfish Bisque is a seasoned shellfish purée which is used as a basis for a soup. The shells are used to make the bisque, and the process is long and results in a small amount of purée relative to the amount of effort. You need to be patient with the initial process in order to enjoy the full depth of flavours. If you decide to make this crayfish bisque you can use any locally caught crayfish, or lobsters. In South Africa we catch west coast rock lobster. Our season is short and the aim is to keep the stocks at a sustainable level.

Crayfish Bisque
Crayfish Bisque

According to Larousse, the word ‘bisque’ has been in use for centuries and suggests a connection with the Spanish province of Vizcaina, which lends its name to the Bay of Biscay. Bisque was originally used to describe a highly spiced dish of boiled meat or game. Subsequently, bisques were made using pigeons or quails and garnished with crayfish or cheese croûtes. It was not until the 17th Century that crayfish became the principal ingredient of this dish, which soon after was also prepared with other types of shellfish.

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Crayfish Bisque

Recipe Category: Appetizer
Makes enough for: 4 people
All Rights Reserved: An original recipe from Lavender and Lime


for the bisque purée

  • 40 g butter
  • 90 mls mirepoix
  • 1.25 l fish stock or consommé
  • 75 g short grain rice
  • 4 crayfish heads, cut in half and cleaned
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 45 mls Brandy
  • 105 mls dry white wine

for the bisque

  • 4 crayfish tails, steamed
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 150 mls crème fraîche
  • 65 g butter, cut into small pieces


for the bisque purée

  • over a low heat and in the largest pan you have, melt the butter
  • cook the mirepoix until soft
  • cook the rice in 500mls of the stock until soft
  • add the crayfish to the mirepoix together with the seasoning
  • sauté until the crayfish shells turn a bright red
  • heat the Brandy in a ladle and pour onto the crayfish and set alight
  • stir well
  • add the wine and reduce by two thirds
  • add 150mls stock and cook gently for 10 minutes
  • remove the crayfish, remove the claws and set aside
  • remove the meat from the heads and set aside
  • pound the claws
  • add the claws, crayfish meat, the mirepoix, the rice and the cooking liquid to a food processor
  • process until well blended
  • pass through a fine sieve, reserving the purée

for the bisque

  • finely dice the crayfish tail meat
  • place your purée in a saucepan with the rest of the stock
  • bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes
  • cool slightly and add the cayenne pepper and the crème fraîche
  • add the butter
  • add the tail meat
  • serve piping hot


A mirepoix is the holy trinity of cooking and consists of finely diced onions, carrots and celery

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