The True Langoustine (Scampi)
What”s In a Name? The True Langoustine (aka Scampi)
By Robert Landy
What is Scampi? There”s shrimp scampi, which is shrimp cooked in garlic butter, but that”s not scampi. Scampi is a type of lobster and is one of the world”s finest delicacies. There are, however, other species frequently referred to as scampi. For example, in the Midwest region of the US freshwater shrimp (Macrobrachium Rosenbergii) are referred to as scampi. So again, what exactly is scampi?
Is scampi a crawfish? Is scampi a crayfish? No, scampi are small clawed lobsters that unfortunately look a little bit like a crawfish. But they definitely shouldn”t be confused with the freshwater crawfish, which is primarily from the Gulf of Mexico and China. Crayfish is another name used for spiny lobster, and if that”s not confusing enough, in the southern US crawfish is called crayfish!
Is scampi a langostino? No, the Spanish word for shrimp is langostino, so we know it”s not that! A langostino is a squat lobster caught in Chile (Cervimunida Johni) and on the Pacific coast of Central America (Pleuroncodes Planipes). These are very small lobsters that are sold mainly as cooked IQF meat.
So what are we talking about here? To start with, the French name for scampi is Langoustine, and so a scampi lobster is the true Langoustine. It”s commercially caught in the North East Atlantic and in the North Sea. The Latin name for this species is Nephrops Norvegicus. There are also commercial quantities caught off of New Zealand and the Latin name for this subspecies is Metanephrops Challengeri. There are small quantities of scampi caught elsewhere, but the numbers are so few these are usually consumed locally. Most of the true Langoustines are sold head on, however Iceland and Ireland mainly process headless tails.
What do we call these buggers? These little lobsters are commonly called Scampi, Danish Scampi, Norway Lobster, Dainty Tails, Lobster Dainty, Dublin Bay Prawns, or, for you French buffs, Langoustines. Regardless of what you call them, they are truly one of the finest eating specialties from the ocean. Scampi have an amazing delicately sweet flavor and are served in the fanciest of restaurants.