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For The Love of Langoustines

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Local fishermen Donald and Finlay with their freshly landed langoustines.

The summer fishing season is in full swing here in Harris, although you're unlikely to see anything but small boats plying the sounds and seas around our shores.

Gone are the days when hefty herring boats would head out from our harbours, ring-netting their rich haul from the rough seas of the Minch.

Today, it's the smaller creel boats that do all the hard work. Setting out each morning, they drop their baited pots overboard to settle on the sea bed, searching for sustainable shellfish.

The creel fishing boat 'Elizmar' and creativity at Leverburgh harbour.

As July comes to a close, one particular creature provides a bumper catch just off the Harris coast; a wonderful crustacean called the langoustine.

Langoustines are known locally here in Harris as simply prawns. However, you may have heard other names: Dublin Bay prawns, Norwegian lobster, or that old classic cornerstone of the British bistro, Scampi.

Langoustines are highly sought after throughout Europe, especially in France and Spain, and most of the catch from Harris ends up on restaurant tables hundreds of miles away from our harbours.

Pots and creels, ready to return to sea for a fresh catch.

But, they remain a favourite on dinner tables here too, and a well-timed visit to coincide with the arrival of a local fishing boat is a great way to get hold of some closer to home.

The prawns are caught in creels baited using salted herring, which are then carefully placed in well-kept secret spots before being lifted the next day again, weather permitting.

Closely related to the lobster, but much smaller and boasting a bright pink-orange hue, these sweet and delicious shellfish are best cooked and enjoyed as fresh from the sea as can be.

Lots of lovely fresh langoustines, ready for cooking.

You can't really go wrong when cooking them either, and it doesn't take long until they're ready to eat, whether boiled, grilled on a barbecue, or even oven-baked.

And you don't need to be here in Harris to get hold of some, just ask any good fishmonger if they can help supply you.

Whatever you do, keep it simple, there's no need to fuss! See below for a recipe we love to get you started…

Grilled langoustines with lemon butter and breadcrumbs.

Grilled Harris Langoustines & Lemon Butter

1 kg fresh Harris langoustines
400 ml white wine
50 g fresh breadcrumbs
Olive oil
2 lemons
100 g butter
Sea salt and coarse black pepper to season

Mix the butter, black pepper and zest of a lemon with a pinch of sea salt and set aside. Heat a grill to high. Combine the langoustines and wine in a pan, bring to a boil, cover, then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove and place the langoustines belly-side down on a chopping board and cut in half lengthways.

Then lay them flesh-side up on a baking tray, top with the lemon butter, sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and drizzle with oil. Grill for 5 minutes or until golden, and then serve with a squeeze of lemon, and a glass of Isle of Harris Gin and tonic.

Seafood and our island spirit, always a perfect pairing.

We believe the refreshing, smooth complexity of our maritime Isle of Harris Gin makes it a perfect partner for great seafood like this.

So, we hope you feel inspired to explore more maritime pleasures alongside our island spirit as we share more with you over the coming weeks.

Meantime, let's raise a glass to the love of langoustines and the simple pleasures in life!

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