Hey, guys, I’ve been gone for some time so a few updates: This cooking blog is not going away! (more annoying blog writing coming up! ) in fact, I just purchased a new theme and I’m planning the makeover to happen sometime this summer (northern hemisphere summer time). I’m also moving to a new apartment with much better kitchen lighting (natural and awesome). I will also have the ability to grill outside which is amazing considering how much I love it and how long I haven’t done it. So, all in all, a pretty outstanding setup for blogging and cooking so I hope I can get things back on track with more food experimentation, sous vide recipes and just cooking fun in general. I have a couple of really cool products to review as well so I will get into that in the next few days.
Moules-frites as they say.
I remember this being one of the first “adventurous” dishes I learned how to cook many years ago around the time I started this blog. I was so uncertain of what would happen in that pan. Cooking live things isn’t for everybody but it’s definitely for me. Dealing with these little guys seemed so tricky back then. Are they dead? asleep? Almost every reference emphatically commanded you to throw away mussels which shells were already open because that meant they were dead. Some books suggested tapping on open mussel shells first and if they snapped shut they were good, otherwise.. you guessed it. Trash can. Now, if you’re working with frozen shellfish, you can forget about all this. Anyways, the fact is: cooking mussels is as easy as it gets and this recipe is all about its basic preparation.
Now Moules-Frites is a Belgium thing and God bless them. Steam the mussels, add some good tasting fat, lots of garlic, oniony stuff, and top it with some aromatic herbs….and let’s not forget about that side of crispy French fries (which I skipped this time around). So… pretty simple, huh? Let’s go over a few things and the list of ingredients obviously.
2 pounds of live mussels, debearded and scrubbed.
2-3 Tbsp of EVO
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp minced garlic.
1 Shallot, minced.
2-3 Tbsp finely chopped parsley.
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives.
Splash of vermouth or Pernod.
Juice of 1 lemon.
Steaming live mussels.
If you’re not familiar with cooking shellfish, the principle is simple. You apply heat until those shells open up. Gentle heat preferably. And that’s about it. The timing is all up to those shells. Some shellfish require longer than others. Mussels are probably somewhere in the middle. About 3 minutes or so. That should give you some idea of how to time it.
Steaming frozen mussels.
If you’re working with frozen (dead) mussels, things are a bit different. There’s no visual cue. Shells will most likely be already open, or the top shell will have already been removed for your convenience. Since the mussels themselves are frozen, extra time is required to thaw them. Steam for about 5 minutes or so.
Making it happen.
Whether you’re using live or frozen mussels this whole thing should go down quickly. Add the oil and butter to a skillet or heavy pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, shallot and cook for a minute or two. Now add that splash of vermouth or Pernod (dry white wine is also popular). I recommend experimenting with Pernod which is the less advertised choice in most recipes you’d find online. You will not be disappointed, the pairing works excellently. You can add the mussels now and as soon as vapor starts rising. Cover the pan to steam them. Take a look after a couple of minutes and see if those shells are opening. Once they start opening, remove the lid to help reduce the liquids and concentrate that awesome flavor. Mussels release a lot of briny goodness.
Finishing it all up.
Add the chives and parsley. Toss is all up energetically and you’re done. Notice how I didn’t use any salt. Up to you. I think mussels don’t really need it. They’re already salty, sweet and briny. Basically delicious. Finish up in style with some lemon juice. Make yourself a pile of French fries and have a great weekend guys!
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