If you’ve never heard of langoustines, you’re in for a rare (literally) treat. Also known as Dublin Bay prawns or “scampi” on restaurant menus, these shrimp-like crustaceans pack some of the sweetest meat in the sea, comparable to that of their larger counterparts, lobster.
But while it’s easy to lump langoustines in with shrimp or lobster, this Scottish delicacy truly possesses a flavor all its own.
The name “Norway lobster” isn’t just a nickname — it’s actually quite accurate. Langoustines are related to lobsters, though they’re smaller in size and lighter in color. With a maximum length of 10 inches, their small size is validated by the tender flavor of their tail meat – described as “complex and delicate” by Bon Appetit.
Today, most Norway lobsters are caught in the North Sea and northern Atlantic ocean, up toward Scotland and Iceland. To date, Scotland provides more than half of the world’s langoustines. Another fun fact: unlike lobsters, langoustines’ bright orange-red shells don’t change color when they’re cooked.
Since these tiny lobsters are known for being so uniquely delicious, you might ask yourself why they’re so rare. The reasoning is two-fold: the process for catching them and the limiting quotas imposed by the British government and the European Union.
Langoustines are caught using a similar method as lobsters — a process that is made even more difficult by the cold temperatures of the North Sea. However, while the strenuous task of catching them does contribute to their rarity, the primary reason is as a result of a decline in population suffered around 20 years ago. Ever since, strict regulations and guidelines have been in place for catching these desirable sea creatures.
The Cooking Process
So you just received your first order of Langoustines (lucky you!). Now, to fully embrace the delicious flavors of these deep-sea critters, proper preparation is key. Luckily, in this case – we advise you to go the simple route.
To prepare, boil whole small langoustines in salted water, then shell and enjoy. While some people like a dipping sauce, many think it isn’t necessary and the flavor of the meat speaks for itself.
For larger langoustines, a similar preparation to lobster works best. Split the shell, brush with butter, flavor with your favorite herbs (or Chef Tim’s spices), then give it a few minutes in the oven or on the grill. If you’re craving a more decadent execution, try removing the meat and tossing it in some lemon-butter pasta with white wine.
Forewarning: Don’t bother looking for Langoustines on grocery store shelves. Instead, you can find them right here online. Better yet – we’ll ship them right to your door.