Saturday, June 11, 2016

Langoustine – The Dublin Bay Prawn, Scampi or Norwegian Lobster on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Langoustine – The Dublin Bay prawn, Scampi, the Norwegian lobster, or as the Scottish fishermen are said to prefer to call them the “Whole Prawn.”  However, the langoustine is neither a prawn nor a shrimp; and the vast majority are not caught near Dublin.
Dublin Bay prawns – the langoustine or scampi.

The Dublin Bay Prawn does not look like a shrimp or prawn. It has its own unique taste and texture and once tasted you will keep on going back for more.  It grows up to 25 cm (10”) length, but most of those that I have seen in French restaurants were no longer than 18 cm (7”).  (N.B. All the meat is in the tail, and that is about one-third of the total length).  In the USA the scampi on your plate is nearly always ordinary shrimp. If that is served after you have just returned from France where you have dined on the real thing that will be a big disappointment.  In France when you order langoustine; they will provide langoustine. In Italy where the real scampi is the langoustine, there will also be no confusion and you will receive real scampi.

Names, confusion, and the langoustine.

Do not confuse langoustine with the langouste or the South American langoustino.

The langouste is the spiny lobster and owner of the much larger lobster tail.

The langoustino is a small flat South American member of the lobster family and is practically never seen in Europe. 

The real langoustine, the subject of this post is the Dublin Bay prawn or real scampi.
Langoustines in the market.
Dublin Bay prawns do look like a tiny two-clawed lobster, but they are a very distant member of the lobster family.  They have an orange color which does not change to red when cooked and there is no meat in the claws or legs. The average edible weight varies from a 30 grams (1 oz) per piece to a large size that may weigh 50 grams (1.8 oz).
The langoustine is very popular in France, and seafood restaurant menus will offer them in at least two or three options. Every seafood platter will include the langoustine.
Langoustine on French menus:
Cocktail de Langoustines  - A cocktail of Dublin Bay Prawns; usually the tails only, ask to be sure. They will be served cold on a bed of lettuce or endives with a sauce rose, also called the Sauce Marie Rose, or with fresh mayonnaise.   

Salad of scallops with langoustine carpaccio.
Croustillants de Langoustines aux Herbes Fraiches – Crispy Dublin Bay Prawns prepared with fresh herbs.
Langoustines du Guilvinec et Coques à la Marinière – Dublin Bay Prawns from the Guilvinec (an important fishing port in the department of Finistère in Brittany).  Here, served together with cockles cooked in white wine, garlic, and fennel.
Live langoustine on sale.
Langoustines Grillées au Beurre à l'Ail - Dublin Bay Prawns cooked in garlic butter.
Langoustines Rôties au Poivre de Timut, Purée de Chou-Fleur -  Dublin Bay Prawns roasted in Timut pepper (a Nepalese pepper similar to Szechuan pepper but with a slight grapefruit tang) served with a puree of cauliflower.

A langoustine salad.
Les Nems de Langoustines, Confit d'Oignons et Mangue – Dublin Bay spring rolls served with an onion and mango jam.
Ravioles de Langoustines Emulsion de Girolles – Dublin Bay prawn ravioli served with a thick girolle/chanterelle mushroom sauce.

Shelling langoustine is quite a bit more involved than shelling shrimp, and the shells are both sharp and tough; the restaurant will supply the tools. You must break off the head, rip the shell off the tail, and then open and remove the meat from the tail, discarding bits of legs and so on as the meat is only in the tail. If you do not like shelling seafood then check with the server for a dish where they are already shelled. 

Shelled langoustines in basil.
Be warned, the shell is nearly three-quarters of the weight and so an order for two pieces of Dublin Bay Prawns for an entrée, the French starter, will leave you quite hungry. Six would be better. 

Poached langoustine.
Only order Dublin Bay Prawns in a restaurant with a busy operation; that will help in making sure they are fresh.  Being served dry and spongy langoustine from last week's catch is missing all the fun; yes, I've eaten there too.  If they are dry and spongy or pasty, return them.
Langoustines in the languages of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan - escamarlà), (Dutch - Noorse kreeft), (German - kaisergranat, tiefseekrebs or scampi), (Italian – scampi), (Spanish – cigala, escamarla).

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2016
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman

No comments:

Post a Comment