Serves 4

This is a proper, old-fashioned restaurant dish that always used to be on the room service menu in the grand hotels in London (and around the world, I shouldn't wonder). It seems extraordinary to think of that now. I remember big pots of Provençale sauce sitting in containers in the hotel kitchen fridge ready to be used for all sorts of different dishes and often in disguise. We didn't use fresh live langoustines, always peeled frozen tails, the type that gets breaded for scampi in the basket. Frozen scampi tails are not bad, actually, and you can find them in good fishmongers. They will be available in various grades from small to jumbo and I would recommend the jumbo for this recipe. Otherwise you could buy fresh in the shell and peel them. Or you occasionally see just the un-peeled scampi tails in fishmongers. If that fails, use large prawns and just peel them.

24 peeled, large raw scampi tails
Olive oil for frying
A good knob of butter for the sauce
4 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
2tbsp olive oil
1tsp tomato purée
A splash of white wine (about 50ml)
10 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped, or a 400g can of chopped tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp chopped parsley
A good knob of butter

First make the sauce: gently cook the shallots and garlic in the olive oil for a couple of minutes without colouring. Stir in the tomato purée and white wine, then simmer for a minute. Add the tomatoes, season and simmer for 5-6 minutes until the tomatoes just begin to break up.

Meanwhile season the scampi, heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a frying pan and cook the scampi on a high heat for 3-4 minutes until lightly coloured. Add the tomato sauce, butter and parsley and mix well. Re-season if necessary.

Serve with plain boiled rice.