Lately I’ve been feeling down and cooking and baking have actually made me feel a bit better. Okay that was cheesy. On a scale of nacho cheese to chat up lines, that would be on the extremely cheesy end. Seriously though, cooking time is great reflection and unwinding time for me, so making something that requires loads of chopping and stirring just like this simple mussels recipe is just perfect.
Cleaning the mussels is quite tedious though. I mean do they really need those beards? They could’ve just had waterproof webs or little exterior fins but of all things in the world, they had to choose annoying straw-like beards. Good thing my mumma was willing to help. After de-bearding, make sure you soak the mussels in cold water until you’re ready to use them. And if they stay open then throw them back into the sea.
This dish is all about freedom! Throw in things, chop them roughly or thinly. Create textures. You want things to sit in the shells when the mussels open up. I like how the sliced onions and parma ham hung out of each shell while the chopped mushrooms and white onions sat inside the shells with the sauce and the mussel meat. Eat them with your fingers, spoons are unnecessary. Split the shells and scoop up the sauce and everything with the meaty side then slurp. This is probably the only dish where table etiquette is thrown out of the window into the sea with those pre-opened mussels. Don’t think, just do!
- 1 kg live mussels, thoroughly cleaned and debearded
- 1 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 white onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- Grated knob of ginger
- 1/4 fresh scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
- 4 slices parma ham, chopped + thickly sliced
- 4 chestnut mushrooms, diced
- 3/4 anchovy fillets
- 400ml water
- 200 ml skimmed milk
- 100ml double cream
- Handful of chives, chopped
- Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
- Salt, paprika and seasonings to taste
In a deep pan, melt the butter and olive oil then add in the onions. Leave for 4 minutes or until they start to look a bit translucent, stirring occasionally.
Now add the garlic, ginger, chillies and parma ham. Stir, mix and make sure everything in the pan’s touching each other and invading their personal space.
Pour in the liquid ingredients, chives and mushrooms then simmer on low/medium heat for 5 minutes. It doesn’t need to boil vigorously.
Now add mussels and stir. They will start to open. Cover and simmer again for 3 minutes then throw in the anchovies, salt, paprika and seasonings to taste.
Cover again and leave for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Turn off the heat then throw in the parsley, stir, then cover and leave to rest until you’re mentally ready to get physical. Enjoy by itself or with crusty bread.
Note: Don’t be put off by the long-ish list of ingredients, I basically just chucked in everything I found in the kitchen. So like with everything in life, work with what you’ve got. You could swap the double cream for single cream or even that can of coconut milk. You know the one that has been in your cupboard for so long, just chilling there like it’s paying the rent. Or even swap parma ham for bacon or flakes of smoked fish. You get the idea.
What’s your comfort food for days when you’re feeling down?