Magnificent Mussels

Fragrant poached mussels

I absolutely adore almost anything that comes from the sea (with the exception of jellyfish – I just can’t get my head around it!), and this love is particularly strong when it comes to anything that resides in a shell. Crayfish, bugs (also known as slipper/shovelnose lobsters), crabs, prawns, pipis – they’re all marvellous, but one shell-residing critter that I adore but seem to rarely enjoy is the mussel.

At the markets earlier last week, I was meandering around the fish vendors when I spotted a tall water fountain-like box filled to the brim with these live beauties and I couldn’t help but wander over. Their gleaming black shells looked so beautiful under the rippling water that without any further hesitation, I nabbed a half-kilo and trundled off to pay, eager to get back home quickly and cook them up for my lunch.

Getting them home, I have to admit that I was a little stumped as to what to do with them (here’s a confession for you, I’d never actually cooked a mussel dish before! I’d used them as part of spicy seafood stews, but never used them for a dish that allowed them to shine in their simple glory!). A few hours at the markets meant that by the time I got home I was quite peckish, so I needed something that was quick and easy, so after perusing the internet for awhile, I decided on a simple poaching for my babies.

The recipe is much sparser than any other poached mussel recipes that I’ve seen on the net, but if you’re looking for a simple preparation that will take these babies from sink to plate in less than 10 minutes, give this a try :)

Poached mussels

Simple Poached Mussels

500g fresh, live mussels
1 cup light white wine (my current tipple is the Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc)
1 long red chilli, thinly sliced on a bias
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, diced (I thought I had onion when starting prep…but I didn’t. Boo)
3 black peppercorns
1 tbsp salted butter

Lemons and coriander, to serve

1. Clean those mussels – scrub and debeard them and discard any that appear dead and/or have cracked shells (mussels very quickly become toxic once they die)

2. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat and once it has melted, add the chilli, garlic, onion and peppercorns. Fry till the garlic and chilli have softened, then add the wine and bring to a boil. Allow to boil till the liquid has reduced by almost half, then toss in the thoroughly cleaned mussels and put on a tightly fitting lid and allow to boil for 4-5 minutes.

3. Once time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid of the pot. Remove the cooked and open mussels and plate up, then strain the poaching liquid over the top. Serve with wedges of lemon to freshen the flavour, and chopped coriander for a little colour :)

Cleaned mussels, waiting to be poached

[tags]mussels, seafood, poached, savoury, recipes[/tags]

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