Any of the more than 500 species of crustaceans that resemble tiny, pale to dark brown lobsters, including claws. They grow from 3 to 6 inches in length and weigh from 2 to 8 ounces. Most are fresh water species, a few are salt water. More than half of these species occur in North America, particularly in Kentucky around Mammoth Cave, and Louisiana in the Mississippi Basin. The rest of the species live mainly in Europe, New Zealand and East Asia.
Crayfish are very popular in parts of the United States, where they are know regionally as crawfish, crawdaddy and crawdad. They are also very popular in France (called ecrevisses), New Zealand and Scandinavia. Most of the U.S. crayfish come from the Mississippi Basin in Louisiana. They are prepared in many of the ways lobster can be cooked, size being the primary difference. Like lobsters, crayfish turn bright red when cooked. The tail meat is the only edible portion: The crayfish are snapped in half with the fingers and the meat is either sucked or picked out. Battered and fried, they are popularly know as Cajun popcorn.