This year on Valentine's Day guests of BlackSalt Fish Market and Restaurant will have a very special item available to them that most restaurants and markets will never get a chance to offer. Carabineros will be offered this holiday in limited amounts to some very lucky guests who are looking to experience one of Europe's most coveted delicacies. Carabineros are large prawns found in deep water (500m-2,000m deep) along the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. Carabineros are renowned for being very large in size and having a robust, exquisite flavor. In England they are known as "cardinal shrimp" or "scarlet prawn" and, in France, "crevette imperiale." Carabineros translates to "police" in Spanish, and they are reportedly named after the police uniforms in Spain due to the fact that their shells share the same bright red color.
Like most shrimp, most of a carabineros' meat resides inside the tail, but the savory meat and rich juices contained in their head cavity should not be ignored. The flavors encapsulated in this large prawn can't be found anywhere else in nature, nor can their unique sweetness and distinct shellfish flavor be duplicated. This is why in Spain and Europe they are often simply prepared with only sea salt to dress them.
Carabineros will be available in the market and our chef Mike Huff is offering them on the menu for Valentine's Day, but supply will be very limited due to their rarity and cost. Carabineros are not often available outside of the best markets and restaurants of Europe, so unfortunately I can't say when we will be able to offer them in DC again. If you are looking for something special this year to get your valentine - an experience rather than a charm - then I have to recommend trying a culinary odyssey that will transcend your idea of shrimp and possibly transport you to another coast and culture, all while promising to have you home without taking a flight.