Mallaig and North - West Fishermen's Association

Neil Robertson Associates

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The European Fisheries Fund Investing in Sustainable Fisheries

The Scottish Government

Mallaig and North - West Fishermen's Association



Shellfish Endeavour

Sweet succulent langoustines are worth shelling out for.

by Lady Claire MacDonald

Article reproduced by kind permission of the Scotsman magazine November 2012.

Langoustines are, for me the king of all shellfish. I wouldn't mind if I never ate another lobster, just give me tender langoustines and I would be happy. And the good news is that langoustines are easier to buy than ever. Beware overcooking them - I plunge a handful (6-7 if they are very large, a few more if they are smaller) into simmering water and count to 30 then lift them out with a slotted spoon. It is essential to cook them in relays of small amounts, because a large amount cooked at once inevitably results in overcooking.

Langoustines benefit from very little by way of adornment. Here are three recipes, all great favourites of our family and friends. And a fourth is so simple, I can give it here: just snip open each cooked langoustine from tail to head and lay them face down to cool, serve with melted butter and diced garlic and parsley, and a lemon quarter on the side.

Prawn cocktail

Serves 6

Very retro this but it's staging a comeback on menus. Avoid any vinegary content for the dressing such as tomato ketchup.

12oz/340g of shelled langoustine, cut into bite-sized lengths if they are very big.
Assorted salad leaves - I know that prawn cocktails are always meant to include iceberg lettuce, but they are incredibly dreary to eat, even if they have a slight crunch on them.

For the dressing

You do not want to swamp the langoustine with dressing.

1/4 pint/284 ml double cream - you can now buy double cream containing only 49 per cent fat, but which is still double - although that sounds like a contradiction.
3 tablespoons Worcester sauce
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 rounded tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons tomato puree
About 10 grinds of black pepper
1 level teaspoon salt paprika - to dust the surface of each prawn cocktail
6 wedges of lemon

Whip the cream adding the Worcester sauce and lemon juice. Stir in the mayonnaise, black pepper and salt, taste and add more lemon juice if you think it is needed. Mix the langoustines thoroughly with the sauce. Divide the salad leaves between six glasses evenly.Evenly distribute the prawn cocktail mixture between the glasses. Dust each with paprika and put a lemon wedge at the side of each glass on its plate. Serve with bread toasted if you like, or my favourite, with oatcakes and for me the choice would be the pumkin seeded Nairn's oatcakes.

Prawn, bacon and garlic pâté

Serves 6 as a first course or this course textured pâté can be used as a luxurious filling for buns for an elaborate winter picnic - we will be eating these in threee weeks time, around a bonfire for the picnic lunch during our celebratory 40th anniversary of Kinloch weekend.

2 x 200g low-fat Philadephia cream cheese
12oz/340g langoustine weighed when shelled and if they are large, the langoustines cut into small bits about 1in/2.5cm in size.
6 rashers of dry-cured streaky bacon grilled till crisp, cooled on absorbant kitchen paper then snipped or broken into small bits.
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
About 15 grinds of black pepper
No need for salt as the bacon contributes enough salt for most palates
2 fat cloves of garlic, blanched into their skins twice - ie put into cold water, brought to the boil, the water drained off and replaced with cold water, brought to the boil and drained off again. This removes the harsh taste of raw garlic.

Tip the contents of the cream cheese carton into a mixing bowl. Add the langoustines, the bacon, the chopped parsley and black pepper. Snip the tops off each blanched garlic clove and the skins will slip off easily. Crush each garlic clove add them to the contents of the bowl. Mix thoroughly, then put the pate into a bowl to serve, with either warm seeded bread on rolls, or with Melba toast or oatcakes.

Langoustine in saffron and shallot sauce

Serves 4
I like to serve boiled basmati rice with this and a green vegetable such as roast courgettes. The sauce can be made a day in advance, then reheated and the shelled langoustine added 2-3 minutes before serving. It is most convenient as well as a delicious main course for a special occasion.

I allow 4 large langoustines per person, more if they are smaller. Cook them and then when they are cool enough to handle, shell them as described in the introduction to these recipes. If they are large and if you like, cut each in half.

For the Sauce
6 banana shallots, skinned, halved and diced evenly and finely
1/2 pint/284 ml dry white wine - I use sauvignon blanc
3/4 pint/426ml vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands
1/2 teaspoon salt, about 15 grinds of black pepper
1/2 pint/284 ml double - it must be double - cream
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Put the finely diced shallots into a saucepan with the wine and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer until the liquid has reduced by about two thirds in amount. Add the saffron, salt and black pepper to the softened shallots and stir in the double cream.

Bring the contents of the pan back to simmering and simmer until the sauce is fairly thick - about the consistency of pouring cream. If you are making the sauce in advance, at this stage, cool it and store in a cool place.

Re-heat and add the shelled langoustines 2 or 3 minutes before serving - beware leaving them too long in the hot sauce, because they will toughen. Add the finely chopped parsley at the same time as the langoustines.