MUSSELS ON FLEEK

It’s officially summer and when I think summer, I think beaches.  And when I think beaches, I immediately crave delicious fresh fish. More specifically, shellfish because that’s my favorite kind.  

—To any vegetarians reading, sorry if that’s not where you thought I was going with this…you’ll find a more fitting post on the perfect swimsuit for beach lounging here!

—To my fellow non-vegetarians, keep reading and get ready to impress yourself and your oh-so-fortunate dinner guests with this delicious and super easy recipe for black mussels!

In case you haven’t noticed, I LOVE mussels. Though, for some reason, I only order them in fancy shmancy restaurants and that means I only get to eat them… well, not nearly enough.  This week, I decided to take my relationship with the little guys to the next level and bring them home for a romantic dinner instead.

Since this was my first mussel-cooking attempt, I thought I’d better my chance of success by getting them as fresh as I could find and trekked to Malibu Seafood’s fish market.  If the ocean isn’t in arm’s reach, just call your local grocer ahead of time to ensure they’re in stock.  It costs about $6.00/lb and just over a pound should make a hearty meal for two.  With mussels, it’s always safe to get a little extra as a handful of the bunch may not make it into the pot.  

Ingredients: Serves 2

1-2lbs fresh black mussels, cleaned and debearded

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (if you’re married or single, I’d go for three but if this is dinner date vibes, best to stick to two)

1 whole shallot, chopped

1.5 cups chicken broth (or 1 cup chicken broth and 1/2 cup dry white wine if you’re feelin’ frisky)

1 lemon, juiced

Sprinkle of red pepper flakes to your preference

2 heaping tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons of butter or Smart Balance butter substitute

Prep

The rule of thumb in avoiding seafood sickness from mussels is: don’t cook them if they’re open before they go into the pot and don’t eat them if they’re closed when they come out.  If any of your mussels are open before cooking, give them each a little tap on the shell. The ones that are still alive and good to cook will close themselves slowly when tapped. If any mussels stay open, they must be discarded along with any mussels with broken shells. Once you’ve rinsed your mussels with cold water, make sure to check for any beards (aka scraggly, seaweed looking bits) and finagle those suckers side to side while pulling until they’re completely removed.  Unless you’ve got the grip strength of an American Ninja Warrior, it can be difficult so small pliers or tweezers will help.

Cook:

Heat oil in a 6-8 quart pot aka a pretty big one.  Add minced garlic and chopped shallot and sauté until it smells awesome… aka about a minute. Make sure to stir quickly to avoid burning the garlic.  Add your mussels and toss them in the garlicky goodness for a hot sec to coat as best as you can before pouring in the chicken broth and lemon juice.  Sprinkle some red pepper flakes to your liking and put the lid on the pot.  Let your future masterpiece steam on medium-high heat for approximately 4-5 minutes.  Remove the lid and stir in the parsley, tomato and butter (or butter substitute) and return lid for one last minute of steaming.  

That is literally it. You are now a Parisian chef. Show off your mussels by keeping the meal simple and serve with a crispy baguette or infuse with a touch of Italia and serve with garlic bread and a caprese salad, like I did!

Bon appetit!