A knob of butter
A splash of olive oil
2 shots of brandy
One handful chopped tarragon
1000ml of good chicken stock
Two pinches of saffron
2 tsp of cayenne pepper
Langoustines, or Dublin bay prawns as they’re sometimes known as, are pricey feckers. Ranging form €10 per kilo if you buy them from the boat up to anything over €29+ per kg. But they’re worthy of the price; in my opinion the best pinchy thing in the water (I won’t say shellfish as they come a close second to clams, nom). They normally don’t give much in return for that cost but not many people know to use the discarded shells as they give delicious flavour back, if treated right.
Prep: I’ve searched and searched but I can’t find a video on how to prep a langoustine. So this may be a bit long winded but bear with me as this is all you need to know about de-shelling…
- First place your prawn belly down on the board (see above). Grab the thorax with one hand and the tail with the other. Click the tail to the left then to the right. The tail should then separate away from the body. If your prawns are very fresh, you may get a bit of a wiggle from the prawn, don’t worry, it’s just a reflex action.
- Now with the blunt side of the blade of a big chopping knife, crack the claws with a good whack. You don’t need to smash them, just enough so that when they stew, they will release their flavour.
- Next grab the three fins at the end of the tail between your thumb and your index finger, and hold the tail in your other hand. As before, gently click the fin to the right until you hear a gentle click, and then to the left. The fin then should separate from the tail. Pull it gently away and it should also take the gut tract away with it. This black/brown thread is not good eating (that’s it’s poop) and throw it away but keep the fin and the head shells.
- You’re now left with the tail; Pinch the sides of the tail together until you hear a snap on each of the segments. The tail shell should be now easy to peel away from the flesh.
And that’s your prawn prepped! Well done. Put all the shells in one pile and the flesh in another and you’re ready to move on…
De-skin and roughly chop one carrot and one onion, fry in a mixture of butter and olive oil until soft. Add all the shells and mash down.
Add two shots of brandy and flambé.
When the flames have died down, add two roughly chopped tomatoes, a handful of chopped tarragon, two teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and two pinches of saffron.
Stir, then add a glass of dry white wine and allow the booze to cook off (roughly 30 seconds). Then give the shells another smash and cover with chicken stock. Gently simmer for 40 mins or until the liquor has taken on an amazing taste and a burnt umbra colour.
Drain off through a chauffant (a rigid conical sieve) and pound down on the shells, each hit brings more flavour.
Return the liquid to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Poach the langoustine in the liquid for no more than a minute but don't put them all in at once otherwise they'll bring down the temperature of the liquid. Once they're all cooked, Arrange the langoustine in a shallow bowl and pour the liquid over them. Serve immediately… Heaven