Thursday, May 14, 2009

Moules (Mussels)

I have always been a big fan of seafood, as a child my Mum always encouraged me to try lots of delicious fish and shellfish that my Grandad and after he'd retired, my Grandads 'contacts' used to bring home from their fishing trips aboard Grimsby (UK) based trawlers (sadly these are few and far -if any remain - between these days).

I was quite a late convert to mussels however, in fact the first time I ate them - other than inadvertently discovered, and inquisitively nibbled a bit, in a seafood soup - was just last year.

Our French neighbour invited us around for Moules et Frites (Mussels & Chips) and not knowing what to expect, went round with a couple of bottles of wine and not a little nervous trepidation.

They were delicious! This recipe is just for the mussels, I'll leave the chips for you to do.

There is a simple rule of thumb to remember when using Mussels:
Before cooking the shells must be tightly closed - discard any with open shells (if they close when you tap them, they're ok).
After Cooking the shells must be open - discard any that remain closed.

Ingredients. (serves 4)

  • 1kg Mussels
  • Olive oil - a good slug of it
  • 3 or 4 golfball sized shallots - halved and thinly sliced - half moons.
  • 2 cloves garlic - crushed, don't bother peeling them
  • 5 or 6 sprigs of thyme (my favourite herb)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Flat leaf parsley - a good handful, roughly chopped.
  • Coarse sea salt
  • 1 75cl bottle white wine (My mussels are from the Charante Maritime department in France so I use a Charentaise white wine but just use one you like - if it isn't good enough to drink, it isn't good enough to cook with.)

  1. Leave the mussels to soak in cold water.
  2. Add the oil to a big, lidded pan (big!), throw in the sliced shallots and garlic and turn on the heat ( I always add garlic to cold oil and then heat it as it can quickly burn and go bitter if added to hot) and gently bring them to a sizzle. The shallots want to be translucent with a slight hint of browning but not browned.
  3. Add the thyme, bay and half of the parsley and throw around in the pan a bit. A couple of wooden spoons are useful for this, then add approximately 1/3 of the white wine and bring to the boil.
  4. Strain the mussels, discarding any with open shells (see TIP above) and tip them into the pan taking care not to splash yourself with the hot liquid. Place a lid on the pan and gently shake it to slosh that rich liquid around all the mussels.
  5. Add the rest of the wine, return to the boil then lower the heat and leave to simmer for a couple of minutes before gently shaking the pan again.
  6. Remove the lid, all the mussels should now be open (see TIP) so add the rest of the parsley and the salt.
  7. After a couple more minutes serve either into individual bowls or into a big central bowl along with the stock and allow everyone to tuck in along with some crispy chips (fries). The delicious stock can be mopped up with crusty bread or served separately as a soup.
Enjoy :O)

This meal can be served as a main course or as a starter (without the chips).

No comments:

Post a Comment