It was my best friend’s birthday recently and as a treat I had decided to cook her one of her favourite foods, Langoustine. I absolutely adore these creatures, even if they do cost a small fortune – but are worth every penny for their succulent, sweet meat and imposing rosy armour. I picked up a kilo of these beauties alive from Billingsgate Fish Market (which I must confess is a great place to buy speciality fish of all persuasions, if of course you can deal with a 4am alarm call and schlep to East London). These Scottish Langoustine were loving transported back to my fridge where they lay under a wet tea towel until they were swiftly dispensed with.
My kilo and a bit bought me 20 juicy crustacea - which deserved the very simplest of treatment and complimentary flavouring. The pairing of garlic and white wine seemed the most delicious and obvious choice, their flavours melding well with butter, a twist of half a lemon and parsley to create rich winey, garlicky juices that are perfect mopped up with crusty white bread.
20 Live Langoustines (Scottish ones are best)
1/2 bottle of White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc is a good choice)
2 Cloves of Garlic
Handful of Parsley
Zest and juice of 1/2 Unwaxed Lemon
Firstly pull the meats off from the heads and set aside. Keep the heads as these will be used for the sauce. Remove the intestinal tract from the Langoustine (by pulling the middle section of the tail out - the intestines will be pulled out too). Shell the body meats, leaving the tail section as decoration. Cover in cling flim and keep cool.
Put the heads in roasting pan and place in a hot oven and cook for 15/20 mins until the shells start to sear. Transfer heads and any juices to a saucepan on a high heat and add the wine. Cook down to burn off the alcohol, and smash the heads with a rolling pin to release as much flavour as possible from the Langoustine heads. Strain the juices through a fine sieve, reduce by half and set aside.
In a non stick shallow pan, melt the butter until it foams and add the garlic - cooking it until it's aroma is released, but doesn't burn. Add the Langoustine and cook for a minute or two on one side. Turn the Langoustine, then pour in the winey stock and turn the heat down to a simmer, coating the meats constantly. Cook for a minute or two and turn off the heat.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon, seasoning and some chopped parsley. Serve a peppery salad, and hunks of crusty bread on the side.