Blue mussels are delicious, a great source of vitamins and minerals and easy to prepare. They are often added to seafood soups, pasta, rice dishes like paella or steamed in white wine. If you haven't had a go at cooking them, here's my simple European-style recipe to help you enjoy this succulent mollusc. I found this recipe goes splendidly with a variety of wines, like a light lemony Riesling, a dry Sauvignon Blanc and even a White Rabbit White Ale.
I get 500 grams of mussels fresh from the Queen Victoria Market (QVM) and cook them on the very same day. They are cultured and therefore pre-cleaned. So all I really need to do is to give them a good rinse, remove the beards and I'm ready to start cooking for one person.
I love the natural hint of ocean sweetness and soft chewy texture of the mussel, so I try not to over-complicate the cooking. My easy and tasty blue mussel recipe focuses on clean flavours enhanced by garlic, tomato, leek and parsley. I add a small chilli when I crave a bit of heat. All these ingredients are readily available and cheap in QVM.
To prep, I slice 2 cloves of garlic, dice a medium-size tomato, slice a finger-length of leek and set aside a handful of roughly chopped Italian parsley. I'm not very proficient with the grams and cups and can't fathom the practicality of chopping parsley only to have to check if they all fit into 1/2 cup.
Pour a layer of olive oil in a large, deep saucepan and start heating over medium heat.
To that, add the leeks, tomatoes and garlic, followed by a generous pinch of sea salt and pepper. The salt will help the vegetables to release their flavours and encourage the leek and tomatoes to soften.
After 3 minutes or until the leeks look softened, add in a cup of water or dry white wine and the mussels.
Turn up the heat to high and put on the lid. When steam appears from under the lid, peek and check if the mussels have opened. If yes, toss in your parsley and stir until well combined.
Ladle mussels and its juices into bowls, discarding any unopened shells.
Now all that's left to do is to taste the succulent mussels and dunk your crusty bread into the steamy broth.