07 January 2010
With regard to appearance, the langoustine's similarity to a miniature lobster rapidly gives away its heritage. Slim and pink, with a body between three and ten inches, the langoustine's most notable feature is its claws. Often as long as its body, this long and skinny pair of nippers would be admirable claws on a full-sized lobster, and even on this smaller cousin one cannot help but feel they could provide a decent nip to the unwary.
Thankfully there's little chance of this, as the langoustine is generally sold uncooked and fresh, but rarely alive. Simple to prepare at home, a light coat of oil can be applied before roasting them in a hot oven for five minutes. More economically, they can be plunged into rapidly boiling water for between two and four minutes. The meat is removed from the tail in exactly the same way as a lobster. Alternately, enjoy the langoustine whilst eating out. The London restaurant serves them, quite simply, in butter with the merest hint of ginger, while Pierre Gagnaire chooses to encapsulate the langoustines in a clear aspic with almond caramel and corn kernels. Either way, the experience may be a little fiddly, but taste-wise it is sure to please...