Growing up, my family ate a lot of seafood. We were all huge oyster lovers; we had fish or shrimp 2 or 3 times a week and every few weeks, my would make crab depending on the season. We were always more clam people than we were mussels people. We ate mussels, but it wasn’t as common as clams.
Micah is a mussel person. He loves them and would eat them a few times a week if I let him. When we were in San Francisco a few years back, we celebrated my return to the states (I had been living in England) by eating a restaurant recommended by his parents, Plouf. I think that meal forever turned me into a mussel girl. They were plump and delicious and perfect with a side of pommes frites. I think it’s in our top 5 restaurant dining experiences which isn’t too shabby when Ad Hoc, Cochon, Pair and Tilth are up there too.
On Sunday mornings I make our menu for the week and put together my shopping list while Micah makes plans for the day. As I was flipping through a cookbook for ideas, I suddenly realized we hadn’t had mussels in a very long time. I suggested it for Sunday’s big meal and Micah flashed a big, happy grin.
After a few errands we stopped at one of our favorite markets in Seattle, Mutual Fish. It’s been in our area since 1947 and is the seafood supplier to many Seattle restaurants. I love the place because they know EVERYTHING about everything they sell. We used to get our mussels at Costco but 5lbs is way too much for 2 people. Plus, we found that the mussels were small and we’d get a lot of duds (ones that don’t open). At Mutual Fish they always hand pick the mussels for me and I never have more than 2 duds in a 2lb order. Plus the actual mussel meat is always plump.
Our recipe is pretty simple: shallots, butter, olive oil, white wine or beer and mussels. Sometimes we add bacon, sometimes we add Italian parsley.
Flexing Mussels Recipe:
- 1 large shallot
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine or cheap beer (bud light or PBR works great)
- 2 lbs of mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped Italian parsley (optional)
- 1 fresh baguette
Place large stock pot on medium heat and then add butter and oil. You can omit the oil and add an extra tablespoon of butter but we like the combo. Add shallots and sauté until soft. Add the wine or beer to the pot and stir to get the shallots loose off the bottom. Then carefully add the mussels. You don’t want to just drop them in because you don’t want to chip or crack the shells. They won’t open if they are damaged and you shouldn’t eat unopened mussels. Cover the pot and leave to steam for 3-4 minutes. When some of the mussels open and look cooked (firm and dark orange or white), I take them out to make room for those who haven’t opened yet. You can cook them in batches too, I’ve just always done it this way. Once all the mussels have opened and look cooked, I put them into a large bowl, pour the broth over them and then cover the bowl with the pot lid for a minute or two. This warms the early openers. Right before I serve, I sprinkle some chopped Italian parsley over the top and serve with good bread. One of the best parts of this meal is sopping up the broth with the bread.
If you are using beer, I like to add 2 or 3 strips of bacon (chopped) to the recipe. I omit the olive oil or some of the butter, add it before the the shallots and cook as the recipes says. The beer isn’t as flavorful as the wine, so the bacon gives the mussels good flavor. I’ve tried this recipe with good beer and it doesn’t taste as good as when I do it with a cheap light beer.
Like the napkins? I always bust them out when we have mussels. It makes the meal more festive. Do you have a favorite mussel recipe we should try?