Thursday, October 21, 2010
Mussels - a la easy
Mussels are extremely easy to cook and totally delicious, as well as being healthy and very nutritious. (Seriously, they are pregnancy power packs!) High in protein, low in fat, rich with iron, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, and zinc. Best of all, they cook in a few minutes and take to all different sorts of sauces. It was easy to buy up a few pounds when they are under $5 a pound for locally grown mussels.
Some farm grown (and all wild) mussels will have "beards" growing out of the shell. These are the fibers that attach it to the rocks or ropes they are grown on. I like to pull them off before cooking. It takes a yank, but it is easier then eating around them.
Store mussels in the refridgerator in a strainer covered with a wet towel. They will die if left in the plastic bag and you don't want to eat or cook dead shellfish. Discard any shells that don't open after cooking. That means they were dead before cooking.
Also, I just learned the orange mussels are females and the white are males. Who knew!
Mussel Basics (works for clams too!)
The basics of cooking mussels is to start with a flavor base, such as garlic, onions, tomatoes or celery and carrots. Chop any or all of these into small pieces and saute in a little oil. (Curry paste is another great base, for a Thai flavor.)
Then add mussels to the hot pan with 1/2 cup - 1 cup liquid. Cover the pan and simmer 5-8 minutes until all the mussels have opened. Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle with herbs. Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up all the juices.
Generally a pound will fill 2 people, but I have a big eater in the house, so I got a pound and a half for us.
Sauce combos to try:
Beer, fennel, parsley, and tomatoes
White wine, garlic and lemon
Green curry paste and coconut milk, with lime juice and little brown sugar to balance flavors. Serve this one with jasmine rice.
White wine, onions, celery, carrots and cream. (Add cream last, after mussels have opened.)
White wine, tomatoes, fennel and saffron
How do you like your mussels??