Crayfish salad with avocado, red cabbage and cucumber

Crayfish salad with avocado, red cabbage and cucumber

Crayfish salad with avocado, red cabbage and cucumber has fresh asian flavors and makes a delightful summer salad recipe that can be eaten as a light lunch.

Whenever I see crayfish at the supermarkets or fish market here in Dubai, I yearn for the crayfish recipes of my childhood.

My father loved to spend weekends and summer holidays near a small fishing village called Paternoster on the Cape West Coast. During the recreational fishing season (usually between November and April) he went to the beach every morning to buy fresh crayfish off the fishermen as they came in with the catch of the day.

One of my most memorable meals was breaking the fast of Ramadhan with freshly caught and cooked crayfish dipped in garlic butter or mayonnaise. My father drove us down to Paternoster on a summer’s Saturday afternoon, after a call to the fisherman Russel and his grandmother, to check whether they had any crayfish for sale. Russel told my father ‘moenie worry nie, ek gaan vars kreef vang vir julle’, meaning ‘Don’t worry, I will catch fresh crayfish for you’.

By the time we reached their home the pot was on the stove and the recently caught crayfish was literally done the minute we stepped over the threshold. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had.

Crayfish salad with avocado, red cabbage and cucumber

How to cook crayfish for crayfish salad

I always hated how messy crayfish was to eat when we cooked them whole and had to break open the hard shell.

  • Never eat raw or under-cooked crayfish as it may contain parasites called Paragonimus trematodes that infect humans with a parasitic disease called Paragonimiasis.
  • When buying fresh crayfish ensure that there is no fishy smell as this would indicate that they are past their prime and may not be safe to eat.
  • Cook the fresh whole crayfish in salted boiling water until the shell turns bright red. Remove it immediately and shock in cold water to stop the cooking because overcooked crayfish is rubbery. When it is cooled the crayfish meat can be used in salad or vacuum sealed and frozen for later use.
  • Buy fresh or frozen crayfish tails and use these instead of the whole crayfish when making salads. My dad showed me how to cook crayfish tails in big batches without overcooking by following the same process as for whole crayfish above.
  • For better flavor use the raw whole crayfish cut up for Cape Malay Crayfish curry. The carapace has very little meat in it and just causes a mess when cleaning but it adds amazing flavor to the curry. The tails are usually left whole or cut into half lengthwise.
  • The green digestive gland or tomalley of the crayfish is considered a delicacy but may cause paralytic shellfish poisoning in areas where red tide occurs frequently. My brother inadvertently ate it once and became violently ill with nausea and dizziness. He was allergic to crayfish for twenty years after that incident and has only recently been able to eat it without getting sick.

How to eat crayfish

‘Less is more’ is definitely applicable to crayfish recipes.

  • Crayfish salad with fresh ingredients that don’t mask the sweet flavor of the crayfish flesh is ideal. One of the easiest crayfish recipes is Cape rock lobster salad. This can be perked with herbs and noodles to make a Vietnamese crayfish salad or with dill and mustard for a Swedish crayfish salad.
  • I learned how to cook crayfish on the bbq one summer using only garlic butter to baste the crayfish halves as they grilled on an open fire.
  • Cape Malay crayfish curry is one of our feast dishes at Eid, when it is in season. The fewer spices the better, as it overpowers the sweet flavor of the crayfish flesh.
  • When fresh crayfish is not in season I use tails in brine from the supermarket. It’s nothing like the sweet flesh of Cape rock lobster from home, but it lessens the craving.

If you love salads that are not drowning in dressing, then why not check out these other summer salads.

Crayfish salad with avocado, red cabbage and cucumber

Crayfish salad with avocado, red cabbage and cucumber

Razena Schroeder
This Crayfish salad balances the delicate flavor of crayfish, with the sweet and sour notes of the rice vinegar and stevia dressing and the crunch of red cabbage and cucumber, mellowed by the creaminess of ripe avocado.
4.15 from 14 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine South African
Servings 1
Calories 443 kcal


  • 250 ml red cabbage shredded (approximately 1 cup)
  • 30 ml rice vinegar
  • 1.25 ml Stevia to taste
  • 250 ml mixed salad leaves
  • 125 ml mixed coriander and mint leaves
  • 1 small cucumber approximately 12 cm
  • 1 small sweet snack pepper
  • 250 ml crayfish meat approximately 1 cup
  • ½ avocado
  • 5 ml lemon juice
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste


  • Mix the rice vinegar and stevia and pour over the shredded cabbage then stir to combine.
  • Slice the cucumber, snack pepper and avocado and keep aside.
  • Pour the lemon juice over the avocado to prevent it from browning.
  • Arrange the salad leaves and 2/3 of the herbs on the serving plate and top with the red cabbage.
  • Next add the cucumber and snack pepper slices.
  • Scatter over the crayfish meat and avocado and pour over any remaining rice vinegar from the cabbage.
  • Decorate with the remaining herbs.
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes and a grinding of salt (if required), then serve immediately.


I found that the crayfish meat was seasoned enough by the briny liquid it was steeped in and did not add any additional salt.
I used the rice vinegar left behind in the bowl from marinating the cabbage as a dressing on the salad itself.
The lemon juice used on the avocado provided additional citrus notes.


Serving: 1gCalories: 443kcalCarbohydrates: 62gProtein: 20gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 215mgPotassium: 2774mgFiber: 24gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 12180IUVitamin C: 297.6mgCalcium: 518mgIron: 11.5mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.

Keyword 30 minutes or less recipe, halaal recipes, low carb, summer recipe
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  • Reply
    Hannelie Brand
    January 26, 2022 at 9:52 pm

    Greetings from Langebaan! Know Paternoster very well! Will be making a crayfish salad for the first time ever! Usually I devour them freshly cooked with no dressing! Got enough to spoil friends with your crayfish starter and then a kabeljou on the braai! Mooi loop!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      January 26, 2022 at 9:53 pm

      Omg I love them freshly cooked too but love to dip them in garlic butter sauce or Mayo.

  • Reply
    March 3, 2016 at 5:15 am

    I love crayfish!!! What a creative way to use them .. and the addition of the avocado is genius!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      March 3, 2016 at 9:05 am

      Ha ha so do I. Although some of the species we find here look a bit strange. The taste of these little ones reminded me of the sweet crayfish I ate as a child.

  • Reply
    Jill Campbell AKA Pragma Mamma
    February 26, 2016 at 6:05 am

    I am a HUGE salad fan, but have never had one with crayfish! Definitely going to attempt this one as I also heart avocado. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      February 27, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      You are most welcome. I love crayfish, and this is slightly different to the crayfish and mayo salad of my childhood, but it tasted wonderful 🙂

  • Reply
    February 21, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Now, that’s a salad! So fresh and beautiful with such great flavors. Love the addition of avocado.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      February 21, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Thanks Amanda. The avocado added a lovely creamy dimension.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2015 at 1:29 am

    Beautiful salad, I love the colours! Nothing beats fresh crayfish, I grew up with easy access to it, and have very find memories 🙂

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      November 28, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Thank you 🙂 I really miss having freshly caught South African crayfish, but thankfully the brined ones I bought here had a very similar taste.

  • Reply
    November 27, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    This salad looks really refreshing!

  • Reply
    Rachel @ Simple Seasonal
    November 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

    This salad looks so fresh and just a little exotic. I’m going to have to try and find some crayfish for cooking!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      November 27, 2015 at 9:17 am

      It may be called crawfish in your location, or you could use lobster instead. 🙂

  • Reply
    Claudia | Gourmet Project
    November 25, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    colorful, tasty and healthy? my lunch bag is smiling!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      November 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      It is yummy, I must confess, so you won’t be sorry 🙂

  • Reply
    November 25, 2015 at 1:00 am

    What a beautifully colourful salad and all those different flavours and textures make it seem even more appealing.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      November 25, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Thank you. I believe food has to be delicious and pretty enough for me to want to grab it off the plate 🙂

  • Reply
    Tracy @ Served from Scratch
    November 25, 2015 at 12:30 am

    Mmm there is so much deliciousness going on in this salad!! Yes, please!

  • Reply
    Cindy (Vegetarian Mamma)
    November 25, 2015 at 12:01 am

    The color on this salad is beautiful! It would add a pop of color to a holiday table!

  • Reply
    Marisa Franca @ All Our Way
    November 24, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    This is the salad I want the day after Thanksgiving!! It looks so good for you but the ingredients are fantastic. Thank you for sharing.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      November 24, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      You are most welcome 🙂 It is light and healthy enough to make you feel positively virtuous after the Thanksgiving decadence 🙂

  • Reply
    dixya @ food, pleasure, and health
    November 24, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    anything with avocado, i am sold!

  • Reply
    Neli @ Delicious Meets Healthy
    November 24, 2015 at 4:28 am

    What a flavorful and vibrant salad!! Love it!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      November 24, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Thank you. Whenever I make anything ‘healthy’, I remember your website name and make sure it is delicious too 🙂

  • Reply
    Charlene @ That Girl Cooks Healthy
    November 24, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Razena, this looks wonderful I bet it tastes just as good as it looks?

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