When I was a kid, many family celebration dinners used to take place at various Chinese Buffets around the Greater Toronto Area - and I distinctly remember being grossed out by the way my parents, aunties and uncles slurped their mussels out of the shell (yes, now I eat it just the way they did :)). It's only once I acquired the taste and started enjoying mussels too, that I realized there really isn't another way to eat this shellfish delicacy - either eat it directly out of the shell savouring that broth or make your life complicated by eating it prim and proper with a fork and knife. Needless to say, mussels are now one of my favourite dishes.
Every now and then I’ll try and explore new recipes. I frequently make the broth using Thai inspired flavours but this time for a change I cooked up a huge pot of mussels using Mediterranean flavours and ingredients: rich dry white wine, delicate saffron and parsley. It’s key to flavour the broth and cook the mussels all the way through, otherwise this is a seafood that’s easily spoiled. Serve it with some toasted baguette and this easy recipe is bound to become a family favourite with even mussel haters being converted into fans.
**Note: cleaning mussels is the time consuming part, cooking/steaming is easy-breezy!
- mussels - 3 lbs
- all purpose flour - 1/2 cup
- unsalted butter - 2 tablespoons
- extra virgin olive oil - 2 tablespoons
- onion - 1 large onion finely diced
- garlic - 6 cloves finely minced
- ginger - 2 tablespoons finely chopped
- grape tomatoes - 1 pint cut in half
- tomato paste - 1 tablespoon
- saffron threads - 2/3 teaspoon
- thyme - 1 tablespoon
- dry white wine - 1 cup
- salt - 2 teaspoon
- ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- fresh parsley - 1/2 cup
- chilli flakes - 1 teaspoon (optional)
In a large bowl (large enough to fill your mussels), pour cold water and mix in ½ cup of flour, add mussels and let soak for 30 minutes. This will allow the mussels to release any retained sand within the shells. Once the 30 minutes have passed, yank out the ‘beard’ of each mussel by hand and scrub off any dirt on the shells with a brush. Give the mussels one last rinse with cold water and throw away any mussels that aren’t tightly shut.
Set a large pot over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter along with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. At this point add one cup of finely diced onions, sautee for 5 minutes, then add 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger. Sautee for an additional 2 minutes until the onions get translucent. Now add one pint of grape tomatoes sliced in half, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, ½ teaspoon of saffron, 1 tablespoon of thyme, ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper, ½ a cup of chopped parsley and 1 cup of white wine. Bring to a boil, add mussels, cover the pot with a lid and cook for about 8 to 11 minutes, halfway through open the lid, give it a stir and cover again – get rid of any mussels that don’t open. Make sure to shake the pot a few times along the way as well to ensure the mussels at the bottom don’t burn. Serve while steaming hot!