Langoustines with green strawberry and caramelised whey

Langoustines are tasty enough on their own, but chef Tommy Banks elevates their flavour with a trio of incredible preserves. Dotted with a pickled green strawberry purée, covered in grated caramelised whey and sprinkled with fir salt turns the shellfish into one of the most innovative little bites we’ve come across in a while. The salt, purée and whey will make more than you need for this recipe, but they all keep well and can be used to season other dishes. If you're struggling to get your hands on fresh whey, then grated Scandinavian brown cheese (brunost) makes a good substitute.

First published in 2019
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Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Fir salt

  • 100g of Maldon salt, frozen
  • 100g of pine needles, ideally silver fir, picked, washed and dried

Strawberry purée

Caramelised whey

  • 4.5kg cheese whey
  • 60ml of whipping cream

Equipment

  • Sterilised jars
  • Blender
  • Fine sieve
  • Muslin cloth

Method

1
Start by making the strawberry purée, as this needs a month to ferment and pickle. Wash the strawberries in water and then in vodka (which can be reserved and drunk later). Dry on a tray lined with a cloth, then thoroughly toss the strawberries with the salt and place in a sterilised jar. Place a sterilised weight on top of the strawberries inside the jar, so when they release their liquid they become submerged. Seal the jar and leave in a dark place for 3 weeks, opening the jar every few days to release the gas
2
After 3 weeks, remove the strawberries from the jar, then wash and dry on a tea towel and place in a sterilised jar. Combine the wine, sugar and vinegar in a pan and bring to the boil, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool, then pour the liquor over the strawberries and seal. Leave to pickle for at least a week, then blitz the mixture in a blender until smooth. Pass through a fine sieve and store in the fridge until needed
  • 125g of white wine
  • 125g of white wine vinegar
  • 125g of caster sugar
3
For the fir salt, blend the needles and frozen salt together in a blender. Pass through a fine sieve, then store in the freezer until ready to use. Storing the salt in the freezer helps to preserve its bright green colour
  • 100g of Maldon salt, frozen
  • 100g of pine needles, ideally silver fir, picked, washed and dried
4
Bring the whey to the boil in a stockpot and then turn down to a simmer. Solids will continually form in the whey, and you will need to pass it through a muslin cloth into a fresh pan 3 or 4 times during the reduction to prevent them from catching on the pan and burning
  • 4.5kg cheese whey
5
Add the cream when the whey is reduced by about three-quarters. You will notice the mixture starting to caramelise and turn a golden brown colour as it reduces down. Continue to reduce slowly until you achieve a thick, shiny, toffee-like consistency. Pour into a small oiled plastic container and transfer to the freezer to set. It should set hard and be brittle enough to snap
  • 60ml of whipping cream
6
On the day you plan to serve the dish, prepare the langoustines. Twist off the tails and discard the bodies (or save them for stock). To remove the gut tract, firmly hold each langoustine on a chopping board and bend the centre tail flap back towards the shell until you feel a little crunch. Twist the flap 90 degrees and pull it directly away from the tail in a straight line. The whole gut tract should come away with the flap
7
With butcher’s string, tie the tails together in mirrored pairs, belly to belly, and steam for 2 minutes (or 3 minutes if they’re particularly large) before refreshing in iced water. This will make the meat easier to remove from the shell, and prevent it from rolling up with the time comes to grill them. Carefully cut through the underbelly with small sharp scissors and gently ease out the meat in one piece, starting at the thick end, taking care to leave the striped pink layer intact
8
Thread each prepared tail onto a spruce skewer (Tommy uses these but standard wooden ones are fine) and reserve on a clean cloth in the fridge. Remove from the fridge a good 10 minutes before you plan to cook them
9
Heat a heavy, shallow griddle pan over a high heat. Season the langoustines with a little salt and brush with the butter, then place them pink-side down onto the dry griddle. Cook for about a minute, or until you can see them turning a delicious orangey-brown colour, then flip them over and cook for no more than a minute on the other side
10
Remove from the griddle and allow the langoustines to rest for a minute. Pipe a few dots of the strawberry purée on top of each one, then grate the frozen whey generously over the top. Sprinkle with fir salt and serve
First published in 2019
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In the beautiful Yorkshire countryside, Tommy Banks utilises his family's farm to create complex, contemporary dishes that perfectly represent the local area.

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