Day 24: Put some mussel into it!
As we approach the final leg of The Inspiration Challenge – I realised that I haven’t provided a recipe for my all-time favourite seafood – mussels!
I have discussed them on the blog before – and the steps you need to take to prepare them. But, it never hurts to go over it again.
These little morsels of meaty goodness do take a bit of work before cooking, and sometimes the rules surrounding whether a mussel is safe to eat or not, can be really confusing. But, don’t be afraid! Once you get a hang of how to prepare them, cooking is a breeze.
So, here are a few tips to dealing with mussels.
- Buy them from reputable fish monger, or even better, straight off the trawler!
- Once you get your mussels home, you really need to use them that day for the best results. This is one thing that shouldn’t be stored too long. However, if you can’t prepare them right away – pop them in the fridge. Just make sure you don’t leave them wrapped in plastic – they should be kept in a container and covered lightly with a tea towel, to let them breathe.
- Now for the most important part. As you are going through your mussels, some of them may be slightly open. Give them a sharp tap on the side of your kitchen sink. If they close tightly, they are fine cook. However – if they don’t – you must throw them away. They are dead and no good to eat.
- To prepare the mussels, give the shells a good scrub to remove any barnacles – I use a rough cleaning pad to do this (a fresh one out of the packet, not one I have used to scrub pots and pans … eewww!). – Remove the beard (that’s the fibrous thing sticking out of the mussel) – give it a good, strong pull and it should come off.
That’s just about it – now it’s time to cook them!
Mussels in a white wine, bacon and garlic sauce with tomato
- 250gm of spaghetti
- 500gm of mussels
- 3 tbs olive oil
- 5 rashers of bacon, cut into strips
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
- 2 red chilli, finely sliced (or you can add more, if you like it really hot)
- 1 cup of white wine
- 2 400gm can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 handful of basil, roughly torn
- The juice of half a lemon
Bring to the boil a large saucepan of salted water – use this to cook the pasta according to packet directions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-based pan. Cook the bacon, until it’s getting slightly crisp – then add the onion, garlic and chilli and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat until onion is soft.
Turn up the heat and add the wine, allowing it to simmer briskly for a minute or two. Add the canned tomatoes and once they start to simmer, add the mussels.
Cover and cook until the mussels have opened (it doesn’t take long – and this is how you tell they are ready). Add the cooked pasta, fresh basil and lemon juice and stir gently to combine.
Important: As you serve the dish into bowls, ensure that you discard any unopened mussels. If they are closed, then they are no good.
Serve with some nice crusty bread.
This is a nuts and bolts recipe – but I have been known to add prawns, calamari and also some cherry tomatoes. Get creative and mix it up. I promise your guests will be impressed with this sumptuous dish!
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