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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

boiled crawfish, russian style

As if it had read my mind, the New York Times’ Dining & Wine section prominently features an article on the langoustine. I’ve been meaning to write on them – I’ve had a craving as of late. However, the intrepid food writers at the NYT beat me to the punch. Figures. They, unlike ahem, say, me, get paid to write about food. I just have stolen moments.

Looking like little lobsters, langoustines have a pristeen and delicate taste, far superior to the flavor of their larger cousin. The meat is more delicate, balanced. Though hardly of noble existence, langoustines, as well as lobsters, and other who’s who on the fruits de mer platter, scavengers that they are, langoustines are a delicacy, appearing at high-end restaurants for a memorable price.

Its delicate flavor yielding itself to many a dish, I agree with Mr. Apple in that the flavors of langoustines are best displayed in their most simple preparations. But while Mr. Apple suggests that you add some hot sauce or mayonnaise to a heaping pot of freshly-boiled langoustines, I raise his suggestion and give you an even simpler one.

  • Boil langoustines in a pot of salted water – make sure you can taste the saltiness, as this isn’t just to raise the boiling point. Cook your langoustines much in the same way you would boil a lobster. Their bodies will turn delicately pink, indicating to you their doneness.
  • Drain the pot, sprinkle with coarse salt. I like Maldon Sea Salt for these endeavours.
  • Eat.
  • A few pointers, I think that oil or butter messes with the fine tasting notes of langoustines. Which is why I don’t recommend a condiment. You wouldn’t ruin a good oyster with any mignonette, why would you mess with the most naturally delicious meat?

    While most people will give you wine pairings, I’ll suggest that you forgo wine here altogether. In fact, to better taste the sweetness of langoustines, you should pair it with a light beer. A Sapporo goes perfectly with the flavors.

    If, however, you find yourself somewhere in France, say, La Rochelle, for example, be sure to order yourself the biggest platter of fruits de mer the menu offers – and taste the freshest, most delicious seafood ever.

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