My son is flying back to the UK today to spend some time with his brother for a couple of weeks. We are always looking for any excuse for good food so I asked him what he would like for a farewell dinner last night. Bearing in mind we are trying to be healthy I was ecstatic when he said that he would like oysters to start with followed by mussels!
Alas, it was not to be. I sent husband and son off shopping and they came back without oysters; they were being delivered today. Instead they came back with some mussels and very naughty bread to be followed by steak and chips! Oh well…
People have told me that they love mussels but are frightened of poisoning themselves by not preparing them correctly but trust me, it’s easy.
How to prepare the mussels:
- Fill a bowl with cold water and tip in the mussels.
- Under the cold tap remove the stringy, beardy bits and check each mussel. If it’s cracked or won’t shut when you tap it then chuck it.
- Discard any that float in the water.
- After cooking, advise your guests to chuck any that have not opened.
Just follow the rule of: before cooking mussel shut, if not open after chuck.
Here’s what you need for 4 people:
- 300g per person for a starter or 500g for a main course, washed and checked
- 2 finely chopped shallots (or 1 onion)
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- glass of dry white wine ( I used a Muscadet)
- I glass of water
- chopped fresh parsley or coriander
- knob of butter or oil
Here’s what I did:
- Heat the butter in a large saucepan ( I used a stockpot), and add the shallots.
- Fry gently until they soften and add the garlic for 1 minute.
- Tip in the wine and water, herbs and mussels.
- Pop on the lid and the mussels should start to open within a few minutes.
- Give them a stir round to make sure the ones at the top are cooked or shake the pan.
- Sprinkle with more herbs and serve.
Don’t they look gorgeous! This is my lazy version so there is no faff with measuring apart from buying the mussels! You can add some cream but done this way it’s a virtuous dish and, to be honest, they don’t really need it. Add more wine or water if you like more juices.
- I like to bring the steaming pot to the table and let everyone help themselves. It’s much more impressive and they stay nice and warm.
- You can serve them simply with bread or be really good and just have a salad.
Or, you could be naughty and have dirty chips and bread! This was from another night.
- Rather than messing about with a fork simply use a mussel as your tool to pinch the mussels from the shells.
- You probably won’t have any leftovers but sometimes I keep a few cooked ones back and pop them in the freezer, still in their shells. I find it’s great to chuck them onto a paella last minute if you are can’t get to the shops. Use within a month.
‘Moules frites’ are sold in most restaurants where I live at lunchtimes so it seems a staple diet for the French people. If you’ve never tried them give it a go. The sweetness of the mussels and the saltiness of the sea is a great combination. The bread is great for soaking up all the delicious juices.
How do you cook your mussels?