I’ve spent a lot of time around mussels. Serving them, clearing them, tasting them, seeing them be cooked, seeing them be cleaned. Obviously not in that order, but you get what I mean. Working in a Belgian Beer Cafe you see a lot of mussels. Yet, I’m not quite sick of them. I used to think they were pretty gross looking but really, who doesn’t?
I first started to appreciate them in Western Australia when my parents would buy them cold from the supermarket cooked and marinated in a simple olive oil and herb mixture. I had them again in Quebec, Canada covered in garlic and cream and bacon and thought I had died and gone to heaven. And when I started living in Sydney one of my best friends told me I just had to try out this Belgian Beer Cafe where they served blue cheese mussels. Even as a red-blooded American who loves her blue cheese, I was pretty skeptical. But I tagged along- had an amazingly rich and creamy bowl of mussels and funnily enough also landed myself a trial at the restaurant that would become a big part of my life for the next two years. So yeah, mussels and I have had a pretty emotional journey.
Though we’ve been on such great adventures together, I’ve never really cooked mussels at home before. My dad’s played around with them in the kitchen once or twice but I’ve never done it myself. A few months ago Ciaran and I found ourselves at the Taste of Sydney festival and decided to bring home a packet of Spring Bay mussels. We picked up a little recipe card at the same stand and decided to go the simple route and just follow that. It’s a great weeknight meal because it’s quick, simple and low-fuss. Just pair your dish with some fresh, crusty bread and a nice bottle of wine.
Mussels with white wine & cream (Moules mariniere)
Serves: 2 as a main or 3-4 as a starter
Recipe from Spring Bay
- 1kg packet Spring Bay Mussels
- 15g unsalted butter
- 2 (30g) purple eschallots or ½ a red onion, very finely diced
- 1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- a sprig of thyme
- a bay leaf
- 100ml white wine
- 150ml thickened or whipping cream
- ¼ cup rough chopped continental parsley
- Heat a large heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid over a low heat.
- Add the butter, when it’s melted add the eschallots, garlic and some freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until the eschallots are clear and soft.
- Increase the heat to high, add the thyme, bay leaf, cream and wine and cook for 3-4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by 1/3 in volume.
- Open the packet of mussels and pour into a colander, give them a light rinse.
- Pour the mussels into the boiling wine mixture, give them a stir and then quickly put on the lid. Cook for 3 minutes or until the mussels open. Sprinkle over the parsley and serve with the cooking liquid, some crusty bread and salad.
- The mussels will open as they cook, if there are any unopened mussels, remove the open mussels from the pot with a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl. Replace the lid and cook the rest for 1 minute longer.