Monday, 23 June 2014

For the Langoust-ine day of the year: Cantonese langoustines with noodles

I cooked up these suckers on summer solstice this weekend, and what's great was there was still a lot of light to photograph these before they were immediately devoured. I don't know how, but the sweet langoustine always seems to be the shy wallflower of the crustaceans. Constantly overshadowed and out-trendied by it's siblings like lobster (beefy royalty of the sea), crayfish (punchy vibrant minions) and crabs (even those soft shell suckers have more prominence than little lango). Perhaps it has been forgotten and cast aside due to our malpractice of dousing them in batter and calling it scampi. This breaded ill fate has meant we've actually forgotten that langoustines, served as they are (i.e. not battered and deep fried to a crisp), are deliciously plump, sweet, delicate and succulent. There seems to be a large gap between the top restaurants cooking langoustine for a delectable (and most probably expensive) dish and the keen amateur chef or dinner party menu appearance...when in fact these cute little guys are so simple to cook. To eat, if their shells are on, can be seen as rather daunting (and with about a 25% yield of pure meat it's hard to overcome), however once you's so simple. Twist the head, turn the tail on its side and press down till you hear a crunch. From there, it'll be easy to pull away the meat and peel the shell off.

This recipe normally calls for shelled jumbo prawns, but the sweet little langoes were calling for me - and it's the type of dish where you sort of have to give in to the mess and accept the glorious, sweet and spicy sauce drape over your fingers. If this isn't finger licking good, I don't know what is. You can, of course, take these out their shell before serving for a more "polite" way of eating, but I like the fun of just getting stuck in in a sort of animalistic way. Egg noodles are a great accompaniment to this - it laps up and takes the sauce wonderfully. Langoustines are a truly British produce, but we associate it with holidays in Spain and France. Having recently been to Salcome and experienced some sea-side delights, it's time that we embrace langoustines with open arms (and mouths). The best of a lobster and a prawn put together - who could say no to that? 

65g ketchup
20g oyster sauce
3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2tsp brown sugar 

1 finely diced shallot
1 medium sized chilli
2 garlic cloves 
1 spring onion
50ml water 

2 nests of dry egg noodles
4-5 langoustines (or 8 large whole prawns with shells on)

-Mix the ketchup, oyster sauce, sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl and set aside. 
-Boil the egg noodles as instructed.
-Meanwhile, finely dice the garlic, shallot, spring onions and chilli. In a wok, heat the pan till hot with 2tbs of oil and ass the shallots. Lower to a medium hot heat and add the garlic, chilli and spring onion. Stir quickly and add the langoustines in whole. Stir fry this for about a minute and a half. 
-Whilst the pan is still hot, add the sauce you set aside earlier and quickly mix. Add the water to loosen the sauce up a bit and quickly take off the heat. 
-Serve on a bed of perfectly cooked egg noodles with sauce on the top. 

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