When I visited New York back in October I was like a kid in a candy shop at many of the various haute cuisine grocers. In retrospect, these stores are pretty funny. They are designed specifically to convince people with too much money to spend astronomical amounts of cash on food, and they do so very successfully. The KING of these stores is Mario Batalli’s Eataly, which had only been open for a few weeks at the time and was all the rage.
The store has some pretty badass imports – especially in the cured meat department. But what really hooked me and reeled me in like a Bluefin tuna was the seafood section. Although I spent the better part of a decade working in some of the most upscale American restaurants serving the most exotic and expensive food you can imagine (King Cobra anyone? Caribou noisettes? 000 Beluga caviar? White truffle risotto?), one thing that I hadn’t come across was the Langoustine.
Although the langoustine is common in many parts of Europe, it was something I hadn’t seen in an American supermarket or restaurant either for that matter. So when I saw some live little langoustines kicking around on ice, well, out came the wallet (which went from thin and anemic to needing to be hospitalized and put on a feeding tube after this round of grocery-getting).
Anyway, they were great, and gorgeous. Roy busted out some tomato risotto and I butter-poached the langoustine, which is a fabulous cooking method for any type of crustacean like shrimp, lobster, or yes – langoustine. The finished product has a much softer and less rubbery texture (speaking of rubbery, the handmade mozzarella at Eataly was like a freakin’ racketball), and the fat helps it to retain much of its flavor – especially when cooked in the shell.
The method is simple. In a shallow pot combine equal-parts butter and water with some added salt (and some flavorings if you choose – like fresh garlic or thyme, but it’s really not necessary). Place the langoustines (or in your case shrimp or white fish like Halibut or monkfish probably) in the butter/water bath and turn the heat to low and cover the pot. Bring up to a simmer as slowly as possible and turn the heat off before it even comes to a boil. The idea is to do a true poach (in this case a “shallow” poaching, which is with the langoustine not fully submerged, but a fully covered poach would be even better), which is to cook slightly below boiling temperature very slowly, and just to the point of being cooked through to avoid rubbery textures.
Yes, this post is not to help you cook langoustine. It’s to share with you that simple butter-poaching method which is a dream come true for shrimp, monkfish, Halibut, and other tasty fish that you may be sick of grilling, baking, and frying. Try it sucka! And yeah, you can save the poaching liquid/butter and use it again if you like. That’s allowed.
How about Roy’s snapshot of the langoustine by the way? My BFF has got way more skills than yours.