Ah, yabbies. These lovely freshwater crustaceans (you might call them crawfish or mudbugs) are as much a part of Australian culture as the didjeridu and the akubra. Derived from the Webma Aboriginal word “yabij”, yabbies have a lobster-like flavor that's uniquely delicious.
The humble art of “yabbying”—or hunting yabbies—is also a long-standing pastime. Hunting (which is really just a game of coaxing the critters out) harkens back to ancient times and usually entails sitting on the edge of a dam (pond) with a small piece of rotten meat tied to the end of string. Some of the yabbies caught might make it home, but most are boiled right then and there in a tin over a campfire.
Generations of Aussies reflect on childhood memories of tramping through creek beds, turning logs and rocks over, and digging tunnels with sticks in pursuit of yabbies. Good yabbying is conducted in bare feet so getting nipped on the toes (and fingers) is likely. Real yabbiers claim they dive into creeks and catch them with their teeth! Others prefer the “pumpin’ yabbies” method, which you can watch right here.
Yabbies can be found in water holes, ponds, swamps, creeks and (of course) billabongs all over Australia. You'll even find yabbies far inland in Narembeen, Western Australia—thanks to a farmer who brought some in from Victoria and gave the yabbies a home in his farm dams. It was a long shot, but they not only survived, they thrived on the muddy water and warm water temperature. Now people who live hundreds of kilometers from the coast can enjoy the novelty of catching their own seafood.
Haven't discovered the delights of yabbies yet? The delicate, sweet flavor and firm texture has earned lavish praise from foodies, chefs and yabbie fans everywhere. While you’re in Oz, treat yourself to a local farm stay and have yabbies around the campfire. Or hunt them yourself with a string and rotten meat. Or if dangling dead carcass isn’t your thing, snatch some up at a local fish market. You can learn how to cook them right here or visit the yabbie dabbie doo yabbie farm (seriously) and check out some recipes. You can even buy a pet yabbie!
Just like Bubba Gump’s beloved "fruit of the sea” (the almighty shrimp) you can prepare yabbies in a myriad of ways including barbecue, boil, broil, bake and sauté. That’s right, there’s yabby kebabs, yabby Creole, yabby gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There's pineapple yabby and lemon yabby, coconut yabby, pepper yabby, yabby soup, yabby stew, yabby salad, yabby and potatoes, yabby burger, yabby sandwich...and Steamed Red Claw Yabbies with Ginger and Shallots from Hamish Ingham of the Sydney Four Seasons Hotel...and that's about it.