Langoustines, also known as Dublin Bay prawn, scampi or Norway lobster, are part of the shellfish family. Though A close relative of lobsters, langoustines are smaller - similar in size to a prawn. 

The edibe part of a langoustine is in the tail, and, in larger specimens, the claws. Unlike lobster, a langoustine does not turn red when cooked. 

Traditionally caught off the west coast of Scotland, langoustines are usually sold frozen with the shells removed but can be bought live and whole. 

Buying good-quality langoustines

Langoustines are in season from September until May, with a break in fishing in spring to allow for breeding.

To ensure they are sustainable, check that they bear the MSC label, are certified organic or pot-caught. A good langoustine will have a light fishy smell, bright eyes and a bright orange shell. For the sake of freshness and quality of the end-product, the shells, legs and antennae must be impeccable.

Storing and killing langoustines

You can store langoustines in the fridge or freezer. If freezing, blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes and cool first. 

A humane method of killing langoustines is to freeze them for 20 minutes before cooking as this puts them to sleep. 

How To Cook langoustines: Boil, roast, barbecue or fry?

There are many ways of cooking langoustines. They can be roasted, poached, grilled, fried, deep-fried or boiled. 

To boil, start with well-salted cold water and ensure that the pan is not overcrowded. Bring to the boil and simmer for three to four minutes. Remove and allow to cool naturally.  Do not rinse the langoustines as this will remove flavour. Pull the tail from the shells and serve cold with a salad or reheat gently for use in pasta or paella. 

Similarly to lobster, halve the langoustine, brush with melted butter and seasoning, then grill or barbecue for two to three minutes. 

To prepare the langoustine tails, blanch in boiling salted water for about 20 seconds, then remove and plunge into iced water. Remove the head and claws carefully, then crack the shell by gently squeezing the belly. Peel the shell and run a sharp knife along the back to remove the black intestinal tract. Poach in sauce, soup or stock, or pan fry with plenty of butter. 

Popular accompaniments for langoustines include lemon, garlic butter or aioli. They are also often found in 'Surf n Turf' dishes. For canapés, serve with light, zesty flavours like lime, chilli or coriander. 

How to eat langoustines

Pull the langoustine tail away from the head and claws. Pinch the tail between your finger and thumb and break the hard upper shell, or carapace. The shells can be quite sharp so be careful! Pull the shell off of the meat, dip the langoustine tail and enjoy! For more, spoon out the heads or crack the claws, break off one end and suck out the succulent meat. 

Langoustine recipes: