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Langostino is a Spanish word with different meanings in different areas. In the United States, it is commonly used in the restaurant trade to refer to the meat of the squat lobster, which is neither a true lobster nor a prawn. It is more closely related to porcelain crabs and hermit crabs. Crustaceans labeled as langostino are no more than 3 inches (7.6 cm) long, and weigh no more than 7 ounces (200 g). Langostinos are not langoustes (spiny lobsters) despite a similar name (in Spanish, lobster is called langosta). Also, langostinos are sometimes confused with langoustines (Norway lobster), which is a true lobster common in European cuisine.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration allows "langostino" as a market name for three species in the family Galatheidae: Cervimunida johni, Munida gregaria, and Pleuroncodes monodon. In Spain, it means some species of prawns. In Cuba and other Spanish-speaking Caribbean islands, the name langostino is also used to refer to crayfish. In South America, the name langostino is used to refer to red shrimp, Pleoticus muelleri.
In March 2006, Long John Silver's garnered controversy by offering buttered lobster bites advertising that they include "langostino lobster". A Los Angeles Superior Court judge made no decisions in April 2006 on the matter when a class-action lawsuit was brought against Rubio's Restaurants, Inc., for selling "lobster burrito" and "lobster taco" that were in fact made with squat lobster.
- Catherine Schmidt (2007). "Fish fraud: no matter what you call it, 'squat' isn’t lobster" (PDF). Maine Sea Grant College Program. University of Maine. Retrieved August 5, 2011.
- "Langostino vs. Lobster: What's the difference?".
- "FDA Fish List: Market Names of Fish and Shellfish". Retrieved October 30, 2007.
- "Taking Aim At 'Impostor Lobster'". CBS News. October 4, 2006. Retrieved October 30, 2007.