How to Make a Simple Prawn Cocktail with Fresh Langoustines
Prawn cocktail for many is something which is no more at home in the 21st century than the spirit of Woodstock, bell-bottoms or brightly coloured, floral pattern shirts. While it is true that prawn cocktail is something that knew its heyday in the 1970s, it is equally true that the creation remains a big favourite to this day with a lot of people. Although a prawn cocktail was and is most commonly made with small, coldwater prawns, it is equally possible to make it with the tails of the hugely underrated langoustine. This simple recipe shows how to create a prawn cocktail using fresh langoustines.
What are Langoustines?
Langoustines are known by a number of different names in the cold water areas in which they are found, including Norwegian lobsters and Dublin Bay prawns. They are a crustacean, just like prawns and lobsters, but they are hugely underrated, particularly in the UK. Incredibly, the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver recently revealed on one of his TV shows that ninety-five percent of langoustines caught in British waters are exported to countries like France and Spain.
Why? A majority of British consumers simply aren't interested in this sweet and absolutely delicious catch from the clean, crystal clear waters off the West Coast of Scotland...
The only cooking involved in this recipe is the time required to quickly poach the langoustines and make the accompanying toast. The former task can even be conducted a few hours in advance when time is short immediately before dinner and your focus is on the main course.
This is a preparation available from supermarkets in a jar. Alternatively, you can use Thousand Island Dressing, or make your own dressing by combining equal quantities of mayo and tomato ketchup with a generous pinch of paprika, a good splash of Tabasco sauce and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
- 4 whole, raw langoustines
- 1 small, white onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp seafood sauce
- 3 large, green lettuce leaves, shredded
- Pinch paprika
- 1/2 tsp chopped chives
- 1 slice of white bread
- 1 lemon wedge, to garnish
- Sea salt
- Add half the sliced onion and the peppercorns to a deep pot of boiling water. Season with sea salt. Pop in the langoustines and cook on a rolling boil for two minutes.
- Use cooking tongs to remove the langoustines from the pot to a bowl of iced water and leave for five minutes.
- Drain the langoustines through a colander. Grab the head of each langoustine in one hand, the tail in the other and gently twist to separate. Twist the tail fin off each tailpiece in a similar way.
- Holding each langoustine tail belly up, pull the shell apart with your thumbs to snap the, "Ribs," and remove the shells.
- Very carefully make a slit along the top length of each tail to reveal and remove the black vein that runs through them. This is the intestine of the shellfish, containing that which it has eaten and was in the process of digesting.
- Rinse the tails in a small bowl of cold water and cut in half. Stir carefully through the seafood sauce in a small bowl.
- Mix the lettuce with the remaining half sliced onion and season with salt and black pepper. Lay in the bottom of the serving dish before spooning the langoustine tails and sauce in to the centre. Garnish with the paprika and chives.
- Make your toast and cut it in to quarters. Plate along with the lemon wedge and serve immediately.
What about the Heads and Claws of the Langoustines?
The tails of langoustines clearly represent probably less than half the body mass and this is therefore a very valid question. Although there is a limited amount of meat in the claws which is perfectly edible, the quantity often doesn't justify the effort in recovering it.
As for the heads? There are many connoisseurs of langoustines who will put the opened end of the head (that once connected to the tail) in to their mouths and basically suck out the, "Meat," and juices. I have seen this done many times and tried it several times - but I've got to be honest and reluctantly admit that it is a taste I have yet to acquire...
Try instead reserving the heads and claws for making stock or flavouring.
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