Sunday, August 16, 2009

Simple Steamed Mussels

Growing up spending time in the San Juan Islands I never ate crab or shellfish. I loved to help collect it - the excitement of chasing the squirts coming up from the sand when we went clam digging, setting a crab pot so that later I could watch the basket emerge from the blue-green, murky depths full of treasure (there was always something in it, but not always crab), a trip to a fallen tree that hung into the water where, at just the right time in the tide, we could pick mussels like they were fruit - but the only thing I ever ate was the bread dipped in the cooking broth or melted butter. Now that I'm grown (supposedly) I enjoy the main dish too, but still I make these mussels when really I'm craving a meal of bread and butter. This recipe makes the best broth. You can fancy it up by simply calling it by its real name - Moules a la Mariniere. The simple method here also works if you want to change around the flavors - sprinkle some curry seasonings over the onions and use coconut milk instead of wine.

Mussels a la Mariniere
serves two

1 pound freshest mussels
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 roma tomatoes
2 cups white wine
sprig of thyme (optional)
a really good baguette
lots of butter (fancy if possible)

  • Get the mussels ready by giving them a little scrub to get off any seaweed/scum and ripping out the wiry beards (it's great if you can buy them from a place that already does this!).Never cook a mussel that isn't closed (or doesn't close when you tap it). Some websites recommend purging the mussels first, but this isn't needed in the Northwest because they don't grow in the sand here.
  • Saute the onions until they are translucent and then add in the garlic. Saute both until they're just starting to turn brown.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half and squish out the seeds, then dice. Add to the browned onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the white wine and thyme and simmer for about 5 minutes more to reduce the sauce and cook off the alcohol.
  • Toss in the the mussels and stir well to coat. Immediately cover with the lid. Give the pan a good shake, holding the lid on.
  • After 3 minutes give a little peak under the lid. Most of the mussels should be open. If not, put the lid back on for 2 more minutes, but don't wait until every mussel is open - some might not open at all, some will open at the table from the residual heat, and the ones that need even more cooking time have to be sacrificed so that the rest aren't overcooked.
  • Divide the mussels and the broth into two bowls and serve with plenty of bread and butter (see above).
Related Posts with Thumbnails