Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mussels - Moules Marinières

I've been wanting to cook mussels for some time, and I finally got around to it last night. City Super sometimes has 1kg packs of live Australian mussels which are pre-scrubbed (fabulous), so it was really very simple to make. 

I decided to make the classic French Moules Marinières. It turned out well - the mussels were juicy and very fresh. We soaked up the gravy (which was a tad salty, but still delicious) with a small loaf of hearth bread that was baked with bits of camembert cheese inside (a wonderful crusty savoury loaf, not the horrible sweet bread you find all over Asia).

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Moules Marinières
(for a 1kg pot of mussels)

1 kg live mussels
2 shallots
6 cloves garlic
200ml white wine
40g butter
2 Tbsp light olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
fresh parsley (I left this out as I didn't have any on hand)

  1. Finely chop the garlic and shallots.
  2. Wash and scrub the mussels under cold running tap water. I found it handy to use a pair of scissors to cut away any byssal threads (mussel beards) that hang out of the mussel.
  3. In a deep, heavy based pot, add the olive oil and half of the butter. Cook the garlic and shallots on low heat until they are soft and fragrant. Make sure the garlic does not burn.
  4. Add the white wine, bay leaves and freshly ground black pepper. 
  5. When the liquid comes to a boil, pour in the mussels and put the lid on the pot. Shake the pot gently to distribute the mussels.
  6. After a minute and a half, open the lid and start scooping out the mussels that have opened up into a serving bowl. This may sound tedious, but you really don't want them to overcook.
  7. Continue scooping out the opened mussels and gently stir the remaining mussels in the hot liquid until they open. Turn the heat down to medium if it is taking you a long time to scoop.
  8. After all the mussels have been removed from the pot, turn up the heat to high and add the remaining butter and parsley (optional). When the liquid is bubbling, pour it over the mussels and serve with hot, crusty bread.
Use a large slotted cooking spoon to scoop the mussels out quickly.
Add a sprinkle of chilli flakes to make the liquid a little spicy.


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