Spiced Langoustines, Carrot Mousse & Cilantro Sauce.
It's been a while since I've posted anything food-related. The search for a restaurant around town has taken up lots of my time. That's not to say I haven't been in the kitchen lately. Au contraire! I've also been cooking up a storm over the past few feeks. And I simply have to post this. It's one very, very deliciously exceptionally good dish. It's a take off of something I learned a couple of years ago while working at Hélène Darroze (2-michelin star restaurant in the 6ème) . When I was at the restaurant, I always prepared the langoustines (Norwegian lobsters), cooked them & made the sauce. Somebody else on the vegetable station always prepared the carrots. And yet somebody else put all the pieces together on the plate (usually the Second, 2nd in charge). All of that was before the server could rush it out to the customer while still piping hot. Wonder no more why such restaurants can cost an arm & a leg....it's all that attention to detail & perfection...!
The languostines taste just like lobster, maybe better, if that's even possible. (When they are as fresh as the ones we had, as in still hyper-actively moving around when we bought them at the outdoor fish market, then I guess it's possible! Being that exceptionally fresh & alive did, however, make it really, really difficult to deal with back at home. I'll spare you the details. Let's just say that Eric had to leave the kitchen.)
Chef Héléne Darroze has posted this recipe in several public, free magazines & you can find it on line if you're looking for the authentic deal, including exact proportions. Here, below, is my adaptation. In english, but without any specific quantities! (Only because I didn't keep track of them.)
Ingredients (for 8) - Inspired by Hélène Darroze; adapted recipe
Langoustines ~3-5 per person depending on size
carrots 1 - 1.5 kgs
navel orange ~1 piece
butter/cream (but not if you're watching your cholesterol...humm...)
cilantro 1/2 bunch
spring onions - a couple
demi-glace (veal or chicken)
favorite spice blend, cajun spice blend, etc.
1.) This is my version for preparing the carrots & I like how it worked. Steam carrots & section the orange. Purée the cooked carrots in a food processor. Add the orange sections to processor one at at time until you get the flavor just right. Same with the juice. Add until you end up with a nice, fluffy consistency. Not watery from too much orange juice! Season well. Passer au chinois. (Pass through a fine sieve filter.) Can be done ahead & re-heated at low temp in the oven, or used right away while still hot.
2.) Remove shells from langoustines, but leave the tail end for decoration. You could easily use shrimp in place of langoustines. Before pan-frying, dip the langoustines in your favorite spice blend. I used something from Morocco called ras-el-hanoute, a ground spice blend of over 35 spices typically used to make tagines.
3) Sauté the langoustines in duck fat, olive oil, butter, or your preferred fat. To test for doneness, touch the langoustine. (Yes, touching food for doneness happens all the time at restaurants...but don't worry, my finger is clean. ;). They should be firm to touch, but not hard (ie, overcooked). Removed from pan when cooked.
4.) For the sauce, this has been adapted for the home kitchen. The results are just as satisfying. De-glaze the pan with some white wine. Reduce. Add demi-glace (you can buy this at Williams Sonoma's in the states, or G. Detou in Paris, etc). Add chopped spring onions & chopped cilantro. Monter au beurre. (Add a few knobs of cold butter to sauce pan, off the heat, and swirl until melted. This will add a richness to the flavor, give it a nice sheen, & get it to a nice consistency. A real french cooking technique for any sauce! Or skip this step if you are watching your cholesterol....uuurrrghhh....)
5) Assemble: Put a few spoonfuls of carrot purée on your plate. Top with langoustine or shrimp. Spoon some sauce all around. Don't forget to season with salt & pepper.
Voilà. Fine dining at home.....let me know if anyone tries this out. If not, just call me & I'd be happy to private chef it for you in Paris! Or, for the real deal, head straight to Restaurant Hélène Darroze. I highly recommend it. And believe me, I can't say that about every place I've worked at!
Restaurant Hélène Darroze
4, rue D'Assas