Mussels are an excellent choice of seafood as they are green for go on every sustainability list out there. Not only are you making a wise decision for the planet but also your wallet. Mussels are cheap. I mean really cheap. And so are the ingredients you cook them with. A splash of white wine, some fresh garlic and shallots or onions, a dollop of butter and you have an exceptional meal. Our mussels in South Africa come mostly from Saldanha Bay where they are farmed on ropes hanging in the water where they form beautiful long bouquet like clusters of mussels that hang down into the water.
On top of all that there’s even more good news. Mussels are really quick and easy to cook. They require a little bit of admin in the cleaning department, but once that’s taken care of they cook in under a minute. I recommend about 500g of mussels per person. You can clean and prep your mussels before having friends over and cook them at the last minute. Keep them in the fridge covered with a damp dish cloth and try and buy them on the same day you are going to use them or at most the day before. Give them a little tap if slightly open- if they suck their shell closed they’re perfect to use. If there are any open or cracked mussel shells you need to discard them as they are now resting in peace. Same goes for mussels that once cooked do not open- these babies need to be tossed too. So just remember closed when alive/raw and must open when cooked.
Mussels with garlic, shallots & white wine
- 1kg fresh mussels
- olive oil
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 3 shallots
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups dry white wine – Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin work beautifully
- 1/2 lemon
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- fresh herbs- parsley, dill, basil & coriander
- 1 Tbsp crème fraîche or thick cream
Clean the mussels thoroughly. Begin by discarding the broken shelled or open mussels and then scrub the remaining ones under cold running water. De-beard the mussels by pulling the ‘beard’ out towards the tip of the mussel.
Slice the shallots and garlic.
Select a pot large enough to fit all your mussels and one that has a lid.
Sautée the shallots, garlic and bay leaf in 1 Tbsp of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Season lightly with salt and black pepper.
Sweat the veggies until soft and then turn the heat to high. Add two glasses of dry white wine and let it reduce down by about half. Pour yourself a large glass and continue…
When the wine has reduced add the mussels, give them a good stir and put the lid on. Check them in about 2 minutes and if they need it stir again and pop the lid back on for another 1 minute. They should all open and be plump and juicy. They will release their own delicious briny liquid into the sauce.
Once the mussels are cooked remove them from the heat. Break the remaining butter up into blobs and add to your pot and give it a good stir.
Squeeze over the juice of 1/2 a lemon, add the Tbsp of cream and a large handful of your fresh herbs.
Serve straight out of the pot with some crusty grilled bread to mop up the delicious sauce!