The past few times I have been at the Loblaw’s fish counter, I’ve eyed their bags of mussels on ice. But every time, I’m not going straight home, or I can’t cook them that night, and the thought of live shellfish in my car or fridge scares me off. But last weekend, we decided to have a mussel adventure and shopped just for that. I have to say that I’m amazed that a bag of mussels that more than serves two people is only $4.99! This will fuel my future motivation to skip the restaurant mark up and make these babies at home.
Mussels are pretty easy to prepare, they just need a little TLC to start. Put them in a big bowl of cold water so they filter out some of their sand and debris (you’ll be amazed at how dirty the water gets, so don’t skip that step!). Then, give them a scrub under running water and discard any with broken shells and any ones that are open and don’t close when you give them a firm squeeze. If any of them have a “beard,” pull it off by grasping firmly and pulling toward the joint. I was very dutiful in my scrubbing and quality control, and once they were cooked, they all opened and were edible. A little work up front pays off!
Once you have filtered, scrubbed and clean mussels, it’s time to pick your flavours. For our first adventure, we stuck to the basics. Some onion, garlic, celery, parsley and lemon peel sauteed together in butter, then deglazed with about a cup and a half of Sauvignon Blanc and the juice of a lemon. Throw the mussels in, put on the lid and let them steam for 6-8 minutes. They are done when the shells have opened. If there are any that haven’t opened after cooking, discard those. But if you pay attention when cleaning them and get rid of any duds up front, there shouldn’t be many that don’t open.
To serve, I squeezed on a bit more lemon juice and sprinkled some fresh parsley for colour. We served our mussels with crusty french bread, great for dipping in the lemony wine sauce. The flavour combos are endless…next time I’d like to try red curry and coconut milk, and maybe something tomato based. Moules Madagascar are a restaurant favourite, so I’d love to figure those out as well. Cheers to affordable homemade fanciness!