The culinary popularity of crawfish swept across mainland China in the late 1990s. Crawfish is generally served with Mala flavour (a combined flavour of Sichuan pepper and hot chili) or otherwise plainly steamed whole, to be eaten with a preferred sauce. In Beijing, the ma la flavoured crawfish is often enjoyed with beer in mid-summer.
Crawfish farming developed into the largest freshwater crustacean aquacultutre industry in the United States. Louisiana leads the nation, producing more than 90% of the domestic crop. More than 1,600 farmers produce crawfish in some 111,000 acres of ponds.
More than 800 commercial fisherman harvest crawfish from natural wetlands, primarily the Atchafalaya Basin. The combined annual yield ranges from 75 million to 105 million pounds. The total economic impact on the Louisiana economy exceeds $120 million annually, and more than 7,000 people depend directly or indirectly on the crawfish industry.
Crawfish are freshwater crustaceans. Louisiana has more than 30 different species of crawfish, but only two species are commercially important to the industry; the red swamp crawfish and the white river crawfish.
Both market incentives and technological advances have explained the Louisiana crawfish industry to include farming as well as fishing in the wild.
In the 1960's, crawfish farming made its debut with the cultivation of crawfish in man-made ponds, using controlled water levels, forage management and water recalculation techniques to produce a highly marketable product.
Dating back to the native Americans and the early European settlers, the crawfish has been and inherent part of Louisiana culture. Abundant in the swamps and marshes across south Louisiana, crawfish were a favorite food of early residents. Centuries later, crawfish season in Louisiana is still exciting, with crawfish boils and backyard parties a time-honored tradition.