Greatest Recipes Ever: Mark Hix’s crayfish cooked in beer with wild fennel


‘A classic Hix concoction, and one that puts these wretched American invaders to fine use. I first tasted it when he put on a crayfish feast at one of his old restaurants. Hix is a legend’

Tom Parker Bowles

Crayfish cooked
in beer with wild fennel

Extract from Mark Hix’s British Regional Food

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Published by Quadrille in 2006

To serve 4-6

2½ pints of beer
1tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp black peppercorns
1tbsp sea salt
4lb live crayfish
Handful of wild fennel or dill, chopped

When I was in Finland a couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to arrive in prime crayfish season. At this time of year, the Finns pay crazy money for crayfish, washed down with strong shots of aquavit. In New Orleans, I also witnessed a crayfish ‘boil’ up in a remote part of the Mississippi, with jazz band and all.

So why shouldn’t we cele-brate the culling of these tiny delicacies that are overrunning our British waters? Can we convince ourselves that crayfish feasts are the way forward with a clear conscience?

For those concerned about dispatching live shellfish in a humane way, the RSPCA recommend first putting them in the freezer for about two hours beforehand so they go to sleep.


Pour the beer into a saucepan with about 600ml (1pt) water. Add the fennel seeds, peppercorns and salt, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the crayfish, bring back to the boil and simmer for three minutes. Add the fennel and simmer for another two minutes, then drain and serve immediately.

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