Food & Drink Features

Not quite a lobster, not quite a shrimp, the crayfish are coming to Manila by the boatload

You can sample these seasonal crustaceans, flown in fresh from northern European waters, at Sofitel Manila’s Scandinavian-style all-you-can-eat Crayfish Party on September 14.
Adrian Soriano | Aug 30 2019

The time for sunshine is over. The “ber” months have officially begun which means two things, one is that the rainy season is in full swing, and two, Jose Mari Chan is about to awaken from his hibernation. Kidding aside, it’s really cold out and while a bowl of nilaga would be really good right now, our food loving spirit compels us to seek out new cuisines, especially those from colder climes.

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When we think of Scandinavia, we think of Vikings, beer, and very cold weather. The cuisine revolves heavily around seafood, game, and the few vegetables that survive the prolonged winter season in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. And in the middle of all that is the crayfish.

Enjoying crayfish at last year’s Crayfish Party in Sofitel.

Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans that resemble small lobsters and are highly sought after by Scandinavians, especially when they can be caught during the summer months. Since the 16th century, serving crayfish has been synonymous with the end of summer. Swedish King Erik XIV would mark the start of the autumn season with a garden party that served crayfish boiled in dill. However, a plague in 1907 destroyed the crayfish stock and Sweden has since then strictly controlled the fishing of crayfish.

Crayfish boiled with fresh dill and best enjoyed with just a spritz of lemon.

While you can’t find crayfish in the Philippines, seafood-loving Filipinos will get the chance to sample these prized crustaceans on September 14 when Sofitel Philippine Plaza, in partnership with NordCham Philippines and the Philippines Norway Business Council, throws what is billed as the biggest crayfish party in Asia.

The Sofitel team in full Viking mode at last year’s Crayfish Party.

Sofitel is flying in huge quantities of fresh crayfish in preparation for the feast, more commonly known in Sweden as the kräftskiva, which will feature a host of other Scandinavian specialties, not to mention free-flowing San Miguel beer. But there’s no disputing that the star of the show is the crayfish, best enjoyed with your hands, messily and gloriously.

A preview of the spread of Scandinavian dishes at this year’s Crayfish Party.

Similar to eating large prawns, you start by twisting the small crayfish head off from the tail, and sucking all the delicious seasoned fat and juices. You then remove the shell parts of the tail to reveal the meat. After eating the tail end, you remove the claws and legs one by one, prying them open, to taste their sweet, delicate flavor. Then you can complement the crayfish with homemade salmon gravlax, Swedish meatballs, sausages, and more, for an unapologetically unrefined way of indulging in good food.

Salmon gravlax
Swedish meatballs

With free-flowing beer, ABBA music, and a mix of Scandinavian and Filipino fare, the Crayfish Party is meant to bring together two cultures that may be geographically far apart, yet share a similar sense of revelry over good food and drinks. Proceeds of the Crayfish Party go to the Chosen Children Village which is dedicated to providing a home environment and care facility for physically and mentally-challenged children.

 

The Crayfish Party will be held on September 14, 2019 at the Harbor Garden Tent, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City. Tickets are available for P3,900 per person and P72,000 for a table of 20 people. For tickets and inquiries, visit crayfishparty.ph or call (0966) 453-7178