A succulent shellfish from the shores of Great Britain
We don’t eat nearly as much langoustine we should. Yet some of the best langoustine in the world are caught right off our own shores, from Cornwall right up to Scotland. This wonderfully succulent shellfish is closely related to the much more popular lobster, while being closer to the size of a large prawn—and given the chance, would be the star of any table it graced.
“Our langoustines are beautiful at the moment,” says Joe from Furness Fish and Game. “They are coming in from the Shetland Islands and are in wonderful condition. We will be getting them every day as they are very popular around Valentine’s Day.”
If you haven't had them before the best thing to do is keep the recipe simple. “Just remove the tails and take the meat out—ask us if you’re not sure how—then throw them into some butter and fry them over a medium heat. Don’t leave them any longer, though, as they will overcook and get a bit tough. Throw in some chopped chives at the very end and serve up. They are wonderful.”
On the Continent
Langoustines are very popular on the Continent—much more so than here—but you don’t have to cross the Channel to find wonderful ways to cook this delicacy. “I love langoustines,” says Tony Rodd, Borough Market demonstration chef and finalist of last year’s MasterChef.
“They have such a beautiful flavour with a bit more sweetness than, say, lobster. There is also a lot of meat in a langoustine so you get a hearty meal out of just a few. They are also one of the few shellfish that go really well with meat which for a chef is wonderful, as it inspires you to be creative.”
Tony’s first surf and turf suggestion might surprise a few people. “I like to pair langoustine with pork, they go so well together,” he enthuses. The recipe itself is very simple. Blanch the tails for about four minutes, then when they are cooked take the flesh out of the shells. Cut some pork belly into cubes and set aside.
Langoustine and pork
Make a rub using ground pepper, salt and garlic, and rub it over the langoustine and pork. Then place them into bowls, cover with cling film and put them in the fridge for at least two hours, but you can leave them for up to a day.
When it is time to cook, roast the pork in an oven at 150C for about 20 minutes. When ready, make up some skewers alternating the langoustine and pork and adding other things such as red peppers, halloumi cheese or onion.
“Cooking on the barbecue is just the ultimate for me. But if you don't want to break the barbecue out in this weather, cook under the grill for just long enough to heat the langoustine through and finish the pork and langoustines with those caramelised edges you get from the flame. It will be absolutely gorgeous.”
For a more conventional dish, Tony suggests langoustine ravioli with a langoustine bisque. “It’s very simple with very few ingredients. The trickiest part is making your pasta.” There are many recipes available for making pasta, such as Ursula Ferrigno’s, but everyone has their favourite, so feel free to use whichever one you prefer—“Personally I use just pasta flour and egg yolk.”
To make the filling, blanch the tails in boiling water for about 10 minutes then plunge them straight into a bowl of iced water to stop them cooking. When they have cooled, chop up the meat and add some lemongrass and ginger.
“These are lovely and fresh flavours, which work beautifully with the langoustine—but just add a little, as you don’t want them to take over the dish. Make the ravioli parcels and cook in boiling water for a couple of minutes—just enough to cook the pasta and warm through the filling.”
To make the bisque, take the reserved langoustine heads and shells and put them in a pan with a little bit of butter. Cook until they start to go golden. Add chopped onions, fennel and celery, then sweat them off, “but don’t let them brown”. Add a glass of white wine and some fish stock and reduce the sauce until it becomes beautifully rich.
“When it has reached a nice consistency with a real depth of flavour, strain and then whisk in a little double cream and you are done,” Tony says. “You now have a really beautiful bisque to go with your ravioli, and between them a dish that shows off the langoustine at its best.”