I grew up beside the sea at Seapoint, just south of Dublin city. From the age of four, my father gave me an interest in fishing and seafood. Sadly, there has been little point in my taking the fishing rods out over the past 20 years. The disastrous mismanagement of our coastal fisheries over the long-term has led to there being very little fish of any sort left within a decent beach cast of the Irish east coast.
I was bemoaning this fact recently to my friend P. He put the counter-case that there still is plenty of fish in the sea and that we export the best of them. He went on to state emphatically that even the prawns from Dublin Bay are all caught and exported by aeroplane to the south of France, where they attract a premium price.
“Prawns from Dublin Bay?”, I scoffed. Sure everybody knows there hasn’t been a prawn in Dublin Bay in living memory. He refused to believe me. “I’ve seen them myself” he reacted “in the fish market in Niece.”
Ahh, the power of marketing. For the record, there are no Dublin Bay Prawns in Dublin Bay. They are also known in various parts as Norway Lobster or in pricier establishments ‘Langoustine’. Perhaps we should bring some marketing clarity to the situation by renaming them ‘Norwegian Dublin Bay Langoustine’?
None of the above stopped me buying some in George’s Fish Shop and using them for a very tasty Dublin Bay Prawn in Black Bean Sauce. I cooked it for the Wife and myself last week.
Here’s what you need
- Fermented black beans
- Oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons of rice wine or sherry (If you have some left over from when your maiden aunt has been over for a drink).
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 red chilli
- 2cm of ginger
- A teaspoon of cornstarch in a half cup of water.
- 12 Norwegian Dublin Bay Langoustine
Here’s what to do
De-head the prawns and put the tails in the freezer for half an hour. It makes them much easier to shell. While they are cooling, chop the ginger, chilli, garlic very small. Slice the onion. Soak the black beans in hot water.
Side note: Save the shell, the heads and other bits of prawn that you don’t eat to make stock. You can freeze these now and do this later.
Take the prawns out of the freezer and squeeze them on either side of the shell to crack them. The shells come off easily after that. Easily is a relative term. You should be able to get them off with only a few cuts from the sharp end of the prawn shell. Man up, it’s worth it.
After that, fry the onions until soft. Add the garlic and ginger until the aromas start to rise out of the wok. Add the chilli and black beans. Stir until the black bean aroma starts to rise. Add the prawns. Stir.
Add the soy and rice wine. Keep stirring and add as much of the cornstarch mixture as you feel is needed to thicken the sauce.
Serve it with Thai Fragrant rice. Don’t do as I did and let it go cold while taking the pictures.
Now, I wonder, can I copyright “Norwegian Dublin Bay Langoustine”? It has a certain authentic ring to it.
- Now repeat slowly after me: “Viet Na Mese” (conorbofin.com)