Do your homework on prawns before you eat them
While langoustines are a little more work than their soft shell equivalent, they are very rewarding
Langoustines or what most of us call Dublin Bay Prawns. Photograph: JP McMahon
Two weeks ago, at Bloom, I gave a demonstration with langoustines (what most of us call Dublin Bay Prawns). I was surprised how few people knew that they are the only prawn available in Irish water. Perhaps it’s a packaging thing or a marketing device, but many people thought that the other varieties if prawns hailed from Ireland. Unfortunately, fish and shellfish packed in Ireland can sport an Irish flag and the words “Produced in Ireland”. Most prawns sold in Ireland hailed from Asia or South America. While I love the cuisine of both of these parts of the world, these prawns are farmed in awful conditions, with workers being paid $1 a day for their job. I would urge people to avoid these prawns at all costs. This is not to say we don’t import wonderful Spanish prawns or prawns from other places. Just, if you like prawns, do you homework first.
However, nothing quite beats an Irish langoustine. We get ours through Gannet fishmongers who source them from boats fishing off the Aran Islands. They are at their best now. While langoustines are a little more work than their soft shell equivalent, they are very rewarding. You can cook them straight up in some white wine and garlic. They only take a few minutes to steam or fry. As I’ve always said: cook seafood less than you think.
Always retain the heads and shell as you can make a beautiful langoustine bisque. Snip them in two and roast for 20 minutes. Add some vegetables and water and simmer for 45 minutes, then strain.
My preferred way to prepare the langoustine is to cook it with a flamethrower. Simply peel the tail, dress with a little oil and chat with a good flamethrower. I buy mine in the hardware shop as they last longer than the little ones you get in kitchen stores.
Season your charred langoustine with a little sea salt and vinegar and dress with fresh sea lettuce or dillisk. Langoustines are great on the BBQ as well. But just remember to only cook them on one side.