Growing up in the rural Ohio, USA, “America’s Heartland“, eating shrimp was a near-luxury, something you only got if you went to the Red Lobster family restaurant in the next town. If you went to “the big city”, however, you might order shrimp cocktail with spicy cocktail sauce. These “luxuries” usually cost quite a bit there, but here in Spain they’re relatively cheap – at least when you buy them at the local market.
One of the many things I love about Madrid and Spain is (muted drum-roll please) the food. Imagine how this small-town boy moves from the Midwest, USA to Madrid, Spain, Europe!?!? That’s a whole other continent, hemisphere, language! And you may not be surprised to hear that they eat foods here which I’d only seen in old Hollywood horror movies and Jacques Cousteau documentaries.
Langostinos, or Prawns in English, belong to the genus Penaeus monodon, are crustaceans from 12-15 centimeters long and found throughout the world’s oceans. Langostinos and shrimp belong to distinct suborders of Decapoda (“decapoda” = “10-legs”) – but you won’t be able to convince this Ohio boy they’re different. They’re both equally delicious.
Somehow, some way, over the years Friday nights became “Langostino night“. I don’t eat them EVERY Friday night, but probably 2 Friday nights a month, I’d say. They’re just like peel-and-eat shrimp. The FAT ones!
I usually get them at one of the local neighborhood markets. They’re almost always pre-cooked, which I find odd, but I guess that prevents them from spoiling as fast and doesn’t require the customer to cook them at home, either. The usual market rate for 1 Kilogram (2.2 pounds) of langostinos goes for about 10 Euros. Sometimes they sell for 9 Euros, but I’ve never seen them sold in my local markets for more than 10 Euros. Buy them at the Mercado de San Miguel, next to Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, and they sell for double that.
First, they require absolutely no preparation so they’re an easy-to-make meal, which is a plus at the end of a long work week. (not that I’d know as I work weekends, too). I always eat them with a “Salsa Rosa“, which is not like the cocktail sauce we have in the USA – even if it says “cocktail” on the jar. It’s a mayonnaise base with a slightly spicy tomato additive – for which it gets it’s name, “Salsa Rosa” or “Pink Sauce”.
Langostinos are great – but terribly messy. Don’t even think to use the cloth napkins! Use paper napkins – because you’ll likely need 3 or 4 of them by the time you finish. So there you are, peeling your prawns, sometimes scooping out the poop (Spaniards don’t tend to care about this, but I find it very, well, “desagradable” (unpleasant) – even though it doesn’t have a “poopy” taste) before dipping them in the pink sauce. Mmm.. So good.
Only problem is, since your hands are so darn messy, you can’t take a sip of your favorite Spanish white wine without smearing the wine glass or constantly wiping your hands on those 3 or 4 paper napkins! Oh, and be sure to throw out the trash containing those prawns’ shells soon after dinner. By morning, “OOOH, BOY!,” they’re going to smell bad. That’s why I bag their carcasses and pop ’em in the freezer to be thrown out the next day.
So there you have it: prawns and sauce, some brie cheese and crackers, a bottle of good Spanish white wine (Rueda Verdejo, preferably), 3-4 napkins, a good movie on TV, and settle in for another Friday night. “It doesn’t get any better than this” – until Saturday night’s dinner, that is! But that’s another story.Share THIS on Facebook!