Best Bets: Crawfish Bisque


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Crawfish bisque at Erling Jensen: The Restaurant. - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Crawfish bisque at Erling Jensen: The Restaurant.

If you want a taste of spring, check out the dogwoods on Belvedere.

If you want another taste of spring, check out the crawfish bisque at Erling Jensen: The Restaurant.

Crawfish means spring. That’s when the crawfish boils start popping up. Two, which are open to the public, are the Overton Square Crawfish Festival, which will be April 13th, and the Porter-Leath Rajun Cajun Crawfish Festival will be April 28th at Wagner Place and Riverside Drive.

But you don’t have to wait until spring for the crawfish bisque at Erling Jensen’s; it’s on the menu year-round. And it’s delicious.

It begins with a lobster stock, which consists of lobster and mirepoix - onion, celery, carrots, bay leaves, garlic, shallots, and tomato paste. And then saffron, fennel, chili powder, dehydrated tuna, heavy cream, salt, pepper, heavy cream, butter, and a mixture of leeks, onions, and fennel are added. And, finally, the crawfish.

I asked Jensen to tell me the history of the dish. “It came from my La Tourelle days,” he says. “It started out as a bouillabaisse with lobster stock, fish stock, fennel, and a little spice to it. Tomato. And then I woke up one morning and thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I put some heavy cream in it and reduce it a little bit?’ And that’s how it was born.”

That was back in the early ’90s, Jensen says. Crawfish bisque was on the menu when he opened his own restaurant, Erling Jensen: The Restaurant, in 1996. “From the very beginning. It’s been on the menu since we opened, along with the rack of lamb, the pasta, and the crab cakes.”

So, what does does Jensen like about the crawfish bisque? “It’s spicy. It’s rich. It’s just really, really good tasting.”

And what would happen if Jensen took it off the menu? “I don’t know. People, they like it. And if I took it off, I mean, there’d be some kind of civil war here in East Memphis.”

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