Friday, 22 May 2009

Me and my Mussels

Living in the Northeast of England has been wonderful with its plethora of fresh cod, sole, scallops, Scottish salmon, samphirre and mussels...oh how I love mussels.  I want to explain how easy it is to make a quick( they cook in a few minutes), healthy ( high protein, rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, and low in saturated fats),   Eco friendly ( sustainably farmed), and  cheap ( go to your fish monger, you will be amazed) meal with  mussels...


Broiler on high

For this meal you simply need to prepare a nice big salad, grill some bread, and make a big ole bowl of mussels.  So check out the salad dressing blog post for hints on vinaigrette's, and buy some nice crusty bread...and leave the rest of the work to the mussels.

Mussels, 3-4 pounds, rinsed in cool water and beards removed ( The connective fiber that sticks out of some mussels that you can quickly pull off with one smooth yank...but if you don't fancy that bit of work and want a bit more rustic of a meal then leave them...don't worry it wont hurt ya)

2 onion, peeled, and thin sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled, and fine dice
1 leek, thin sliced whites
1 cup white wine
1 head of arugula, cleaned and chopped
Fresh herbs

Baguette, long thin bias cuts
Olive Oil


Once you have your salad veggies cut, salad dressing made, baguette slices drizzled with oil, s, and p then you can grab a big pan /pot (with a lid) and heat it up over medium high heat on your stove top.

Add a bit of butter or oil to the hot pan.

Add your onion, garlic, and leeks and let sweat( cook with out browning) down for one minute.

Add all your mussels to the pan along with the cup of wine, shake the pan, put on the lid and let steam till mussels are all open...shaking occasionally.

At same time placed your slices of bread in broiler and let cook till a golden brown.

When bread is done and mussels have opened, toss arugula and fresh herbs in with mussels, taste  the broth for any issues ( need some salt, a touch of olive oil, maybe a squeeze of acid in the form of lemon juice???) place in serving bowl and serve with salad and bread.


Okay, so that was easy right???  Now how many ways can we make mussels?  Thousands, just use your is just a few other ways to enjoy them...

Make some fries/chips and some home made aioli ( garlicky mayonnaise) and serve alongside the mussels.

Cook some pasta and serve your mussels over the pasta with a little of the reserved mussel liquid ( strain the liquid and quickly reduce it by half over high heat, to strengthen the flavour)...add some tomatoes to the initial vegetable  saute, finish with some basil and maybe a nice sprinkle of Parmesan.

Add curry paste to initial onion mix, add some lemon grass, ginger, fresh chiles and kaffir lime leaf  for steaming and then toss in some coconut milk( in place of most of the wine) and you have a simple  Thai curry flavour

Add fennel and fennel fronds to onion mix, deglaze with Pernod, finish with tarragon and you have a nice anise feel.

Make a nice pesto ( simple puree of fresh greens traditionally made to a paste with garlic, olive oil, s, and Parmesan cheese) with any nice fresh green  or herb...ramps, spinach, arugula, basil, etc., and  toss the cooked mussels with a few heaping spoonfuls...and happy days are here again... added point...never cook pesto you will lose the wonderfully vibrant bright green color faster than you can swear about it!!!

Saute off some zucchini and yellow squash with any of your onion family, toss in some thinly slice wedges of citrus ( rind and all)...follow same directions...

Want to save em for later...cook the mussels as described above, strain the liquid ( freeze and use at later date for many a nice fish soup), chill the mussels in the fridge and toss them in a nice salad, or in your next simple pasta dish.

I could go on and on, but simply put, mussels are a cheap way to make a fun meal fast.  So buy some fresh mussels, use them that day, invite some friends over, and show off your mussels...

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