April 11, 2011

Yabbies. That Many Farm Kids Can't Be Wrong.

For years catching yabbies has been a favourite pastime for farm children all over Australia. Yabbies are a smallish freshwater crustacean.  Different areas in Australia have different names for them. I have heard them called julgies and koonaks, but on The Farm they are definitely yabbies.

They are delicious to eat and have actually mad a bit of a comeback in foodie circles over the past few years.  I remember going to a wedding about 5 years ago where the entree was 4 boiled peeled yabbies artistically arranged over some salad greens.  It made me smile, because it was a huge wedding, and I had visions of some poor kitchen hand having to peel about a thousand yabbies to pull this off.

On the weekend we decided to catch our own little yabbie feast because we wanted to make a yabbie pizza.  My Dad, Farmgirl and I were given the job of chief yabbie catchers.  We headed off to one of our dams with our nets.

Farmgirl And Her Grandfather (She Shouldn't Have Been Dragging Her Net!)

As we are at the end of a hot dry summer this dam has very low water levels.

Very Low Dam

There are several ways to catch yabbies.  We used nets because they are easy and efficient.  My Dad  used to catch them with an old mutton chop tied to a piece of string when he was young.  This is very fun but takes ages.  Basically it involves dragging the chop slowly through the water and the yabbies either grab on or follow behind.  Then, when the chop reaches the dam edge, you have to grab the yabbie very quickly.  This is harder than it sounds!

Anyway - we used nets and good old dog biscuits for bait.  Here is a baited net.

Baited Net - Bait In Poly Pipe

The bait goes into the poly pipe with holes in it.  The yabbies are attracted by the bait and once they are in the net can't get out (as long as the net is the right way up!).

The nets are thrown in the water.

Net Hitting The Water
It is super important that you secure the end of the rope before you throw the net.  Look - I am demonstrating a highly technical way to do this in the photo below.   You will note I am wearing my Crocs.  Oh the shame...  Anyway, I have never pretended to be a fashion blogger...

Stand On That Rope

If you forget this step, the whole net goes in and you will have to wade into that muddy dam, and risk getting your toes nibbled by hungry yabbies, to get it.

The next step involves sitting on the dam bank and having a ponder.

Farmgirl, Pondering

Then you pull your net and catch lots of these.

A Yabbie

The yabbies need to sit in clean freshwater for a little while before cooking so they don't taste all muddy.

When we have lots of yabbies (ie if we are having a party) we use the bath for this - super clean domestic goddesses should look away now.

Yabbie Bath

Afterwards I clean the bath really well before The Farmchildren get in - I promise!

On the weekend we boiled our yabbies up, and then peeled them, mixed them with some coriander and garlic and put them on a pizza.

How yummy does this look?

Yummy Yabbie Pizza


Scotty Lover said...

I love yabbies, and really enjoyed 'cleaning' them out of the trout dams that my dad had. The next best thing was to cook them in a pot on an open fire. We didn't worry about the soaking in fresh water bit. Ah what a memory. When childhood was so free without worry or inhibition and parents only supervised vaguely. Thanks for the walk down memory lane.

ANB said...

I grew up in the desert in South Australia and we used to occasionally go yabbying in dams. But we were too sooky to eat them, we'd keep them in buckets as "pets" and then be devastated when they bit each other's claws off. Because of course, letting them mutilate each other and die slow painful deaths is a lot kinder than just eating them!

Fiona said...

Definitely a trip down memory lane.
We call them crawchies in this neck of the woods and unfortunately don't have any on our place (no dams that hold water year-round). On my parents place they have actually introduced red-claw which are a bigger, tastier treat.
My brother and I spent hours crawchying, small piece of meat on a string, and one one of Mum's colanders to pick them up.
The pizza looks absolutely fabulous. Great post.

A Farmer's Wife said...

Scotty Lover - Our dams are very muddy! - So glad you enjoyed the post.

ANB - Love the story of being too sooky to eat them! Think of all those yabbie feasts you missed out on....

Fiona - Never heard of them being called crawchies. Brilliant name for them though.

Andrea said...

How Yummy?? VERY YUMMY. I remember yabbying as a kid, and tadpoling.

Anonymous said...

Yummo pizza! We called them koonacs when we went hunting for them - we never caught as many as you though, wow! I can't beleive how low you dam is - here's hoping

G said...

Super jealous here at SJW...

Penny's Portraits said...

I have never had Yabby Pizza before - looks great though. I used to go yabbying on a friends farm when we were growing up, got nipped a few times too - man they hurt!!!

The Distressed Mother said...

Wow. Always learning from you! We call them crawchies here and only use them for bait for bigger things. I didn't realise you could eat them.


Bungalowgirl said...

That pizza looks delish. What do they taste like? Prawnish or Chickenish? Do they just appear in the dam or do you have to buy some initially to get the stock started? What colour are they cooked? Just some questions from a curious city girl. I would certainly love to give them a try.

A Farmer's Wife said...

Thanks everyone.

Bungalowgirl - They taste like prawns but less salty. They are quite sweet. They are red when cooked (like prawns etc) To start with you normally get a bucket full from a mate's place or another dam... They tend to do well unless your dam dries out completely. Also birds and turtles eat them! If you want to feed them you can throw dog biscuits or grain into the dam and they get really big (we don't bother).

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Love this! Don't think I've ever seen a 'how to' yabbie instruction book before!

Kakka said...

I would have loved to try that pizza.