Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Langouste. Lobster Tails and the Tails’ Owner, the Rock Lobster, Spiny Lobster or Crawfish. Langouste on French menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
The rock lobster.
Photograph courtesy of  Armel.
The langouste, the rock lobster.
The langouste may be on English language menus as a lobster tail, a spiny lobster, rock lobster or crawfish. On French language menus, the names langouste, langouste Bretonne or langouste royale may be used.  The last two French names indicate a rock lobster caught off the coast of Bretagne, Brittany. When the lobster tail’s provenance is Brittany the chef will be sure to make it known, and that will, of course, affect the diner’s wallet.  For seafood and fish, Brittany is considered the best source in France. From Brittany also come the famous Belon oysters, two-clawed lobsters, mussels, monkfish and the best that the sea offers on France’s Atlantic coast.
Lobster tail and oyster stew.
The rock lobster is extremely tasty, and the meat, which is all in the tail, is just a little tougher than that of the much more expensive two clawed lobster. Most of the rock lobsters caught off the coast of France weigh less than one kilo. Rock lobsters have no useable claws and in small sizes there is no meat in their legs or feelers. The rock lobster is no relation to the two clawed lobster; however, it is often prepared with dishes originally created for it. The two clawed lobster, in French, is called the homard or homard bleu.
A rock lobster and a two-clawed lobster.
The langouste, the rock lobster, is on the left.
Lobster tails on French menus:
Bisque de Langouste – A bisque made with the tail of the rock lobster.
A lobster tail bisque.
Photograph courtesy of promoterest.
La Demi-Langouste en Salade, Huile de Truffes – Half a rock lobster, served with a salad flavored with truffle oil. I have seen this menu item served in the half shell of the spiny lobster with the salad decoratively overflowing onto the plate. Since all the meat of the langouste is in the tail; the shell is just decoration.  The top two-thirds are just shell and serve only to decorate the dish
Queue de Langouste et Salade Mesclun.
A lobster tail served with a salad mesclun.
A salade mesclun originally described a salad composed of at least five different salad greens. Today, to the salad greens may be added tomatoes, green beans, and other vegetables.
Photograph courtesy of Thibault Gomarin
Langouste Bretonne: Prix Selon Arrivage  A rock lobster from Bretagne, Brittany with the price depending on the season.  With this menu listing, you will need to ask both how the lobster will be cooked and the price!  Menus may indicate prices by weight; however, the price may still not be clear. The price may be per 100 grams, or it may be per piece or by half a lobster tail? Ask for a clear pricing format. I am never happy when prices are unclear. Caveat emptor!
The Britains of Britanny
The inhabitants of Britanny are Bretons, Bretonnes in French. The Bretons were Celts who beginning two-thousand years ago came to France to escape Roman and Vikings invasions. The present day Bretons celebrate the Celtic Druid past and there are many celebrations on the 21 June, the date of the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Among the celebrations are re-enactments of Druid rituals and plenty of modern variations of the Druids’ ancient mead called Chouchen will be available. It is made with honey, yeast and water and usually has an alcohol content of up to 14%. You may read about those Druids who still promote their beliefs on their English language website:   http://www.druidry.org/
 Langouste Royale Grillée Sauce Corail -  A grilled rock lobster from Brittany served with a sauce made from its roe, its corail.
Langouste Sautée au Gingembre et Ciboulette – A rock lobster lightly fried in ginger and chives. When a whole or half a rock lobster is on your menu and not just the tail, it may well be local. Langouste imports are typically the tails alone.
Langouste grille - Grilled rock lobster.
Langouste à la Américaine  - A rock lobster prepared in the American manner. The same dish may be called Langouste à l'Armoricaine, rock lobster in the manner of Brittany. These two dishes are attempts to recreate the recipe originally made with the two clawed lobster. The confusion is in the nameFor the story behind this dish and what is probably the correct name click here.  
Langouste à la Mayonnaise – A lobster tail served cold with fresh mayonnaise; definitely one of the best ways to enjoy cold lobster. Delicious! Not even a small French restaurant will serve mayonnaise from a jar; they would be run out of town.  Only fast food restaurants, in France, can get away with industrially made mayonnaise.
Langouste à la Mayonnaise
Lobster mayonnaise on sale in a Charcuterie-Traiteur.
Photograph courtesy of Moxieg
Les Raviolis de Langouste et Petits Légumes sur Lit de Beurre Blanc aux Crevettes Grises. – Ravioli stuffed with rock lobster meat served with young vegetables in a beurre blanc sauce and accompanied by the small, but tasty, sand shrimps.
Médaillon de Langouste à la Nage – The direct translation of this menu listing is a thicker cut from the lobster tail swimming! The meaning is a cut from the thickest part of a lobster tail cooked in the lobster’s own cooking juices and seawater.
Salade de Langouste Tiède – A salad served with warm pieces of rock lobster meat. In France, this will usually be a green salad made with three or four different salad greens. 
Queue de Langouste Grillée; Légumes -  Grilled lobster tail served with vegetables.
The langouste, the rock lobster in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - llagoste), (Dutch - langoest), (German – langusten), (Italian -  aragosta) (Spanish – langosta, llangosta).
N.B. Do not confuse: the langouste, the lobster tail, with:
The langoustine
The langoustine is a much, much smaller if also tasty, crustacean. It is called, in English, the Dublin Bay prawn, or Norwegian lobster.  In Italy and Germany, this is the genuine scampi.  The scampi usually seen on North American menus is a shrimp by another name.
A plate of the much smaller langoustines.
Photograph courtesy of  RobW_
The langoustino.
The langoustino will not be on any French menus. The langoustino is the squat lobster. The small squat lobster is sometimes seen on North American restaurant menus. It not a relative of either the langouste or the langoustine and most originate from fisheries in Central and South America.
The freshwater crayfish, an écrivisse in French, looks like a small two clawed lobster, which it is not. It is a freshwater crustacean, and has had no connection with the langouste, the rock lobster or the homard the two clawed lobster for at least 200 million years.  To add to the arguments, the rock lobster or spiny lobster may be called a crawfish; while a freshwater crayfish may be called a crawdad! Confusion happens!
A  plate of crayfish.
N.B. Crayfish are small, few weigh more than 200 grams.
Photograph courtesy of  Mikko Koponen
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Bryan G. Newman
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