Preparing Langoustine Tails
A cross between a crayfish and a lobster, langoustines are a rare and expensive delicacy. Despite their cost, the langoustine has long been popular in Europe. In Italy, they are called scampi. Until recently, they hardly ever appeared in the United States.
Don’t confuse langoustines with langoustinos, which usually come from Chile. Those are shorter and stubbier than authentic langoustines. The langoustines we show here come from New Zealand.
Langoustines have relatively little meat. Their yield is about 25%. They are expensive to serve. They can be cooked in the same way as shrimp out of the shell. Usually, they require more delicate treatment because of their subtle, delicious, sea-like flavor. As you can see, we poach them directly in a buttery sauce.
Below, we show how to get the meat out of the shell. The langoustines must be shelled before you cook them. The shell is hard to remove at the last minute in the way of shrimp shells. Then, in addition, how to use the remainder of the shells to make crustacean butter, a useful condiment for adding to sauces or gentle sautéing.
If you have crustacean butter, whisk a couple of tablespoons into the sauce to give it a characteristic sea-like flavor and beautiful orange color. When it’s time to cook the tails, simply poach them in the sauce for about 30 seconds. They release a small amount of liquid into the sauce, thinning it slightly. ~ James Peterson