Saturday, 12 December 2009


Say what? Meh-hi-yo-nes. Mussels. I've fallen in love with them again. When we had our visitors a few weeks ago, I made a paella, and bought fresh mussels and langostinos from Mercadona (a supermarket near us: not quite near enough to visit every day, but well worth a trip for special things). I was amazed, nay, gob-smacked, at the prices of their seafood. And yes, I know I should have gone to the Mercado, but we were also after other stuff that the market doesn't have. Get this. One kilo of mussels for €1.80. Insane or what? Admittedly, they are not premium quality mussels: there'll be at least six stiffs in your bag, and the remainder will have beards like Rip Van Winkle and the shells will have more barnacles and fossilised pigeon shit than the Titanic. But inside they are fat, juicy, sea-flavoured lumps of yum (except for the wobbly shiny green bit, and I try not to think about what that actually is).

So, apart from sticking them in a paella, what can you do with mussels? I just lurve Moules Mariniere. Okay, it's French, but it's dead easy to make and packed with nutrition (no fat, no carbs, just a ton of protein).

You want the recipe? Okay, here goes:
All you need (for two people) is a kilo of fresh mussels, maybe half an onion, some chopped parsley and a couple of cloves of garlic. And some white wine. And some EVOO and/or butter.

To prepare the mussels (this is the slightly pain-in-the-arse, time-consuming bit): slap 'em in a bowl or sink full of cold water for at least half an hour. Throw away any that are open or that have cracked shells. Then de-beard them - grab hold of the beard and tug it towards the hinged end of the shell: don't do it the other way, 'cos that will rip the mussel to bits. Scrape off any crud from the shell with a sharp knife, and give them a good old rinse in clear cold water.

Chop your onion up finely and sautė in the butter/oil until a bit transparent. Throw in your minced / crushed / squashed flat and sliced garlic and stir around for a bit. Throw in some white wine - how much? I don't know: enough - maybe a glass or two - you want about a centimetre of liquid in your pan. Plop in the parsley. Turn up the heat, and when the wine is boiling, throw in the mussels. Turn down the heat so it simmers, cover the pan with a lid or sheet of metal foil, and leave it alone for about ten minutes. At this point you can sneak a look: if all the mussels have opened, they're done: if not, maybe give it a few more minutes. Any that refuse to open at all are stiffs: bin them.

When you think they're all cooked, remove the cover from the pan, take the mussels out with a slotted spoon and pop them into a bowl. Turn up the heat to max and let the liquor reduce to about 50% (there are those who advocate adding cream, in which case you'd want the liquor to cool down somewhat, otherwise the cream will curdle - and you'd have to put the cooked mussels into a warm oven, where they'll turn to rubber). When the liquor has reduced, throw the mussels back in, give 'em a stir round and serve.

This a real simple peasant dish: you can serve it with hunks of crunchy baguette, potatoes dauphinoise or chips and mayonnaise. Hell, you could even have a salad with it.

It's just the best thing.

1 comment:

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

Love this recipe...great using the baguette to sop up the sauce!