Signe Johansen’s crayfish, traditional style

The annual kräftskiva, or crayfish party, is an August highlight in Sweden. Because the summers are so short, it feels right to mark the arrival of locally caught crayfish with a convivial affair full of salads, snaps (shots of aquavit or similar spirit) and silly hats. In Britain crayfish can be found at some fishmongers and numerous online suppliers. Dill crowns, the flowering part of the fully grown plant, are commonly found at farmers’ markets in Sweden but less readily available elsewhere. You can grow them at home or source them from specialist suppliers who stock edible flowers. Fennel fronds or dill fronds would make good alternatives.

Ali Allen


200g sea salt
4 tsp caster sugar
1 pint beer (optional)
large bunch of dill crowns, stalks removed
about 50 crayfish

1. Bring about 6 litres of water to the boil in a large pan and add the salt, sugar and beer, if using. Add most of the dill crowns, reserving a few for serving, and simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Add the crayfish and cook for 5-7 minutes before removing from the heat. Cool the pan quickly by placing in a tub with cold water, iced if possible. The crayfish can be kept in their brine for up to two days.

3. To serve, drain and decorate with the remaining dill crowns. Lemon aioli (see below) tastes great alongside.

TIP Special crayfish utensils can help get to the claw meat. A nutcracker also works well.

Lemon aioli


3 egg yolks
½ tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ unwaxed lemon, zest and juice
pinch of caster sugar
150ml extra virgin olive oil

1. Put the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, lemon zest and sugar in a medium-sized bowl with plenty of salt and pepper. Using electric beaters, whisk in the olive oil very slowly, pouring in a steady stream.

2. Once you have a thick yellow sauce, season to taste with more salt and pepper as well as some lemon juice. It should be pretty lemony – but add it slowly so as to not overpower it. Refrigerate until ready to serve with the crayfish.

Buy the book with 40 per cent off

smorgasbord cookbook

All these tasty recipes are from Smörgåsbord: Deliciously Simple Modern Scandinavian Recipes  by Peter’s Yard with Signe Johansen, published by Kyle Books, price £18.99 ( You can order a copy for £11.39 until 12 July at Enter the code YOUSMORG at the checkout. Book number: 9780857837776. For terms and conditions, go to