The hermit crab that wants to be a lobster, langostino

Recently, while playing fishwife, I had a gentleman come up and ask me what the difference between a lobster and a langostino lobster was. I was quick to tell him I wasn’t sure but that I was pretty sure that the langostino was not a true lobster. Then I offered to goggle it right there since the head fishmonger wasn’t around. My coworker and the gentleman next to me  got an interesting lesson.

First off the langostino is no lobster. It just happens to look like a itty bitty lobster tail. Langostiono Lobster is a term used for the Squat Lobster. Further more the word “langostino” is Spanish for prawn. Over in Europe you would hear this term being used. Thing is, and this is a good one, the squat lobster is not a prawn at all but more related to the crab, as in hermit crab.  They are tiny little suckers, only growing to about 3-5 inches.

We all laughed and thought it was interesting and the gentleman walked off with a bag of frozen Langostino tails and shrimp to use as stuffing as it was far cheaper than lobster. I have never had langostino and was quite interested in trying them and meant to look up a recipe or two for them.  I still need to do that, but, it just so happened that while grocery  shopping at Trader Joe’s, with my husband, I saw a bag of frozen langostino right next to the shrimp I was going to buy for a Thai hot and sour soup I planned on making. They were cheaper than the shrimp and the perfect size for soup. Into the cart they went.


After a busy day we came home and I whipped up the following soup in less time than it took to cook the vegetable egg rolls in the oven. It’s easy, fast, warming and full of flavor. It is a little spicy so , if you’re not one for spice, cut back on the chili oil and omit the chopped pickled chili. This is my version of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) Thai Hot and Sour Soup from a cookbook I have in my home call The Culinary Institute of America Cookbook: A Collection of our Favorite Recipes for the Home Chef.

Being that I like to do things quickly lately, I used instant vermicelli noodles. They sat in hot water in a bowl while I got a few things chopped and then simmering in the pot.  Nice thing about this brand, is you can pull out what you need, close the package and put away for another day. I think the cost for this 7oz package was around $2.50 and I only used about 1/4 of the package in my soup.

Found at one of my rare trips to Whole Foods.

Found at one of my rare trips to Whole Foods.

So, how did the langostino’s taste?  My 13 yr old son said it tasted just like lobster. I have to say he wasn’t to far off. I have to agree with him.  They were good and I enjoyed them in this soup very much as a different way to mix it up from the usual shrimp. I also was not able to get the typical straw mushrooms (usually found canned) as neither store I went to had them. Odd but hey, use what you can find and it’s still good. I used crimini in this recipe, use what you like. I will say the straw mushrooms are amazing and authentic if you can find them.


Thai Hot & Sour Soup with Langostino

    • 12 ozs of   langostino
    • 2 oz thin Instant rice noodles (vermicelli)
    • 2 qt Chicken Broth
    • 1 stalk fresh lemon grass, cut into 2-inch pieces, smashed
    • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
    • 2 tbsp chili oil
    • 2 tsp lime zest
    • 1/2 pickled chili
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms or drained canned straw mushrooms
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Set a kettle on the stove and boil water. Place noodles in a bowl and pour hot water over to cover, set aside for 3-4 mins. Chop your chili and cut and smash your lemon grass. Drain noodles and set aside.
  2. In a large pot put in broth, fish sauce, chili oil, lime zest ,pickled chili, lemon juice, and lime juice. Simmer for 10-15 mins.
  3. Add mushrooms and langostinos and cook for 4 mins.
  4. Remove lemongrass stalks with a slotted spoon, sprinkle soup with chopped cilantro and serve.

We enjoy this with vegetable egg rolls as a side.


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