Langoustines have become a luxury item and chefs just have to have them on their menus, yet this high esteem is relatively recent. Chefs used to prefer lobster, freshwater crayfish and Dover sole; the Dublin Bay prawn slipped, literally and figuratively, through the net. We most often knew it by its Italian name, scampi, usually breadcrumbed and fried. While perfectly nice, such treatment hardly does the langoustine justice.
It is best served very simply — and aspirant chefs sometimes struggle with simple. Too much elaboration and this very special crustacean loses that saline sweetness that makes it so glorious.
Cooked when still kicking and served with good mayonnaise, a wedge of lemon and bread and butter, it is hard to beat a plate of boiled langoustines. Should you have some perfectly fresh but “resting” langoustines, a simple grilling with a little herb and spice is just the ticket.
Now so prized, Nephrops norvegicus, to give it a fourth name and the one that is used commercially, had become a significant British export before this January. Yet, at the time of writing, that trade is at a virtual standstill, as delays in obtaining health certificates, customs certificates and other paperwork have slowed down the hauliers’ cargo to the point of ruin. Those markets in Paris, Madrid and Barcelona have no appetite for langoustines that are three days old. No doubt these teething problems will be overcome in time, but damage has definitely been done.
We can, of course, campaign and lobby our MPs to avoid total catastrophe but, for now, the best way to help the fishermen may be to pay the piper and eat more langoustines. Here are two recipes to give maximum returns on the investment.
The bigger and fatter the langoustines, the better. I use a mat (like an oven liner) on my hotplate. Nothing will stick to it and it’s slightly gentler than a griddle pan.
To serve six
A recipe based on the premise that you are not so squeamish that you won’t collect the shells off people’s plates. Roasting, flaming and long stewing will destroy bacteria very effectively. The soup will freeze well, as long as you do the final touches after defrosting.
To serve six
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