Langostino Tails and Gnocchi in Beurre Blanc
Sometimes a really elegant dish doesn’t take a great deal of time or skill. And this is one of them. It started when I came across some frozen cooked langostino tails at the local Trader Joe’s. When I was researching the shrimp scampi recipe I posted a couple of weeks back, I learned a good deal about the naming of various crustaceans, so when I found the langostino tails, I knew a little about them and knew that a beurre blanc would be perfect for them.
First, the langostino. Like their cousins, the Norwegian “lobsters” that the French call langoustines, they look a lot like stylized miniature lobsters and the tails have a similar mild flavor, but when cooked they have a texture that more closely resembles shrimp. They’re imported mainly from Chile, and it’s almost impossible to find them not cooked and frozen, and even more rare to find them whole, whether frozen or fresh. Fortunately, the cooked frozen tails, when gently thawed, are none the worse for the processing. (Chilled, you can even use them like you would chilled steamed shrimp — say for a cocktail.)
Beurre blanc is a classic French sauce that’s nothing more than butter emulsified with a white wine reduction that is flavored with finely chopped shallots (and a small amount of garlic if you like) and some fresh tender herbs whisked in at the end. The sauce is amazing with lobster and lobster-like crustaceans. It also is great with gnocchi and filled pasta such as ravioli or tortellini.
As you can see from the photo, it also looks beautiful on a plate with the langostino tails. While I made this as a light dinner entree, it also would make a perfect first course for a more elaborate meal.
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup fish stock or bottled clam juice
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 1 1/2 sticks butter, cold and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
- Zest and juice from 1 lemon
- 1 lb. frozen langostino tails, thawed
- 1 lb. potato gnocchi
- Add the wine, shallots and garlic to a medium saucepan, bring to a quick simmer and reduce the liquid to about 3 Tbsp.
- Remove the reduced liquid from the heat and whisk in the butter cubes, 1 at a time, until you have a medium thick emulsion.
- Add in the thyme leaves and a little lemon juice, taste and add more lemon juice, salt and pepper to adjust the flavor to your liking.
- Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions.
- Gently warm the langostino tails in a steamer.
- To plate, put a ladle of the beurre blanc in the bottom of a bowl-shaped or rimmed plate, add the gnocchi and top with the warm langostino tails, then garnish with additional thyme leaves or springs and the lemon zest.
- Serve immediately.