For World Oceans Day today, we’re sharing a look at something known as Yabbies!
This freshwater crayfish is found in the Zambezi River but is not endemic to it. Although a landlocked country, Zambia turns to indigenous rivers, lakes and wetlands to harvest fish which are part of the nation’s staple diet. The Zambezi is a home to bream, tilapia, tiger fish, and parrotfish, but the yabby originated in Australia and arrived to our river by way of the rise in aquaculture and a fish farm set up in Zambia.
These crustaceans spread into the Kafue and Zambezi river systems. Because they aren’t indigenous to the Zambezi, and are particularly hardy, can survive drought and breed well, freshwater crayfish are an invasive species in Zambia, that, according to The Conversation AFRICA, “slow down plant growth, eat rice seedlings and can even make dams’ banks collapse. In Europe, alien crayfish have decimated native crayfish species partly through competition. North American species also carry a fungus to which they are immune but which is deadly to native European crayfish.”
“The introduction and spread of any alien species into a new region threatens native communities. Alien species can act as novel predators, competitors and parasites, and they can carry diseases. They may also breed with indigenous species. Freshwater crayfish are famous for being high-impact invaders: they alter the structure and functioning of the ecosystems they invade,” states The Conversation AFRICA.
The more we catch and consume the freshwater crayfish in Zambia, the faster we can remove the threat they pose.
Fortunately, yabbies are really tasty and a delicious addition to two of our Tasting Menus! We’re joining Relais & Châteaux today to acknowledge the United Nation’s World Oceans Day, to specifically raise awareness about yabbies, but also the greater message to consume more sustainably, to protect the planet’s oceans and to opt for fish sources that are in abundance, locally-found and lesser-known.
Relais & Châteaux says, “Today, we stand in solidarity with all ocean advocates around the world. Before our lives were turned upside down, a vast portion of the world’s seafood was consumed in restaurants, but now everyone is transitioning to more home-cooked meals. Meaning not only chefs but you, too, can make a difference when choosing to source responsibly to protect our oceans.”
Another way to enjoy yabbies is with our Fresh Crayfish & Bean Velouté dish. Here is a recipe to try at home!
8 fresh water crayfish, peeled and de-veined
4 baby leeks, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 leek, white part only
200ml of white wine
1000ml of chicken stock
200ml of double cream
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 dash of tarragon vinegar
200g of dried beans
50g of smoked bacon
1. Soak the beans in plenty of cold water overnight.
2. Drain the beans from their soaking water and set aside (discard the water).
3. Fry the smoked bacon in a large saucepan until the fat renders out
4. Add the vegetables and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the white beans, then add the white wine and cook until the wine has evaporated.
5. Add the chicken stock and cook for 25-30 minutes until the beans are very soft.
6. With a slotted spoon remove and discard the bacon and the vegetables. Then add the cream.
7. Liquidise to a velvet texture and strain through a fine sieve.
8. Season the soup well with salt, pepper, lemon juice and tarragon vinegar and keep warm.
9. Blanch the baby leeks in a pan of boiling salted water, then remove and keep warm.
10. Heat a frying pan and add the 4 baby leeks. Cook until the oil is released. Add the yabbies and cook for a minute on each side. Then add the leeks to warm.
11. Place the crayfish and baby leeks into warmed bowls and pour the soup over at the table. Enjoy!
Last year for World Oceans Day, we celebrated Bream. Read more about this local fish here >