Well, I am well and truly back from being on holiday. In fact it’s been almost a fortnight. It’s flown past and I still feel a bit befuddled about it! It’s funny how three weeks away can make it so difficult to go back to normal life – why can’t every day be a holiday? Anyway, it was amazing, and now I can get to planning my next one. For now, it’s back to reality. I have managed to cook bloggable food a couple of times since returning though, and here’s the first installment.
The night we got back we phoned for a Chinese takeaway, which we’d been promising ourselves as a balm for the post-holiday gloom. I ordered a Thai red curry, which I really enjoyed, so when it came to making dinner for myself on Wednesday I decided to give it a go. These are the ingredients to feed one person:
- 4 langoustines
- 1/2 tsp lime zest
- 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp grated ginger
- 2 red chilis
- 100ml coconut cream
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp lemongrass powder
- 1/2 tsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- 3 large mint leaves
- 5 large basil leaves
- 1 tsp grated garlic ( 1 – 2 cloves, depending on size)
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1 large shallot (or 2 normal sized)
- 4 stems purple sprouting or tenderstem broccoli
- 3 tbsp fish stock, made with the langoustine heads and shells while the curry is prepared
- 1 individual block egg noodle, plain or flavoured
- 1 boiled egg, for garnish
- fresh coriander, for garnish
Last time I cooked with langoustines I didn’t get a photo of them first, so I’ve made up for that this time. Look:
They don’t look very happy, do they? I suppose you can’t blame them.
Once you wrestle the shells off them, you get this much meat:
It’s not a great deal, and if you’re a fan of the king prawn you’d almost be as well just buying those all pre-shelled and ready to go. Langoustines are somewhere between a king prawn (which I don’t like) and a lobster (which I do). The texture and flavour are both distinct from that of prawns, and I’m glad to have found a prawn alternative for myself, even if they are a pain to prepare. I’ve said prawn a lot in this paragraph. PRAWN!
I came across this site about how to prepare langoustine which gives you a nice step-by-step on how to do it. It also says
You may be lucky and find a green coloured roe in the head end – these are the eggs of the langoustines which can be used in sauces, soups etc along with the head part.
There was plenty of roe caught up in the legs of two of the langoustine, not in the head. I must confess, I didn’t feel lucky, I felt like a mass murderer. This is the thing about trying new ingredients and maybe more unusual cuts of meat, too: you recapture some of that original squeamishness that you got when you first handled raw meat, and which disappeared after a few times. I am obviously desperate to walk the line between enjoying the experimentation and being too grossed out to eat. I had a small pot of water next to me which I used to rinse off the roe, and when I had the head and shells removed I added them to the pot, too. This went on over a medium-high heat to make the fish stock for adding to the curry later – I just let it simmer until it was time to use it, by which time the water had taken on plenty of flavour from the shells. On the plus side, in the face of all the roe I forgot my squeamishness about the feelers that crept me out so much last time. Win?
I marinated the langoustines in the lime zest, lime juice and grated ginger listed at the top of the ingredients while I prepared the curry sauce. This ‘preparation’ involved de-seeding one and a half of the chilis, then putting them in a blender cup along with all the other ingredients up to the second teaspoon of grated ginger, and processing until smooth. I thinly sliced the shallot, which really was a monster, and put the egg on to boil. Now I was ready to start cooking.
I put my wok over a medium-high heat with the rapeseed oil. Once it was hot, I added the shallots and stir-fried until transparent. Then I added the broccoli and cooked for six minutes, as per the packet instructions. Then I added the langoustines and cooked for two or three minutes, until opaque. I poured over the curry sauce and mixed thoroughly, then turned down the heat to low, to let it reduce a little without burning. When the timer alarm went off to let me know that my boiled egg was ready, I lifted it out of the boiling water and replaced it with a small block of shrimp flavoured noodles, which would cook in there for the next three minutes. I added the fish stock to the curry, stirred well to loosen the sauce and left it over the low heat while I peeled and sliced the egg. The egg is neither authentic, as far as I know, nor a mandatory part of the recipe, but I’ve got right into eggs on my curries lately, since I made this Burmese style curry. Anyway, once I had this cooled, peeled and sliced, and had shredded some coriander leaves to go on top of the curry, it was time to drain the noodles and serve up the whole lot.
I found this made a spicy but not searingly hot curry, so you could adjust the amount of de-seeding you do with the chilis, or have some chili flakes on hand to add at the end, if you prefer your food on the tongue-melting side of things. You could also change the meat and add other vegetables – the takeaway I had used beef, sliced peppers and yogurt-marinated mushrooms, which was all ver nice. If you were using chicken or beef you might want to also use a meat stock, rather than fish, and stick to plain noodles.
For my first go at a red curry, I think I did pretty well here. I certainly enjoyed it, and let’s face it, when you’re cooking for yourself that’s all that matters.