I'm a sucker for good seafood. Luckily, living in South Australia, I'm able to regularly indulge myself with seafood of exceptional quality.
When I was a kid my dad regularly went crabbing for blue swimmer crab and we went digging for cockles (pippies) every Summer at Goolwa Beach, too. Still do, in fact. Fish and prawns bought from the fishmonger featured regularly on the menu as well, as did the occasional squid caught with our own hands off a jetty.
My parents never cooked a lot of mussels at home though - I'm not really sure why except that my mum mentioned tonight that she usually finds mussels too chewy.
So the first time I ate a whole kilogram pot of mussels was when I was living in London in the early 2000s. London was (and is) an expensive city so when I ate out with my friends it tended to be at cheaper Asian places in Soho. However a few times I ate at Belgos, a restaurant that featured one kilo pots of mussels, Belgian beer and waiters dressed as monks.
The first time I ate there I ordered Moules Marinieres. My pot arrived piping hot with a side of frites and mayonnaise and as I opened the lid the most amazing fragrance escaped.
My version of this classic French dish is tasty and ridiculously easy to make at home so you have no excuse not to make this yourself.
My mother's verdict tonight?
"Mmm. These aren't chewy. Nice flavour."
- 30 grams butter
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 leek, white part only, chopped finely OR 3 shallots, chopped finely
- 1 kilograms mussels
- 1 teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, plus extra for garnishing
- 1/2 glass dry white wine or verjuice (I use Maggie Beers')
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Scrub and de-beard mussels with a scourer under slow running water.
- Heat butter in heavy pot until bubbling. Add garlic and leek and stir, cooking for a minute or two until soft.
- Tip in mussels all at once, then add herbs and white wine.
- Put lid back on and cook over medium-high heat for around three minutes.
- Check mussels - if nearly all of them are open then turn off heat. If not, cook for another minute or so.
- Season with salt and pepper if desired.
- Tip contents of pot into large serving dish, removing any unopened shells and retaining all of the lovely juices.
- Garnish with extra fresh parsley and serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juice.