I was going through my old photo albums the other day and came across some from when I was about 16. I was at a summer camp focused on learning french, but it also had electives, I chose Cooking and Art. The first thing they taught us to make was steamed mussels. Quite simply because there was no way to mess it up! Steamed mussels always look impressive and exciting, but they are actually incredibly easy to make, and hard to mess up.
The tricky thing is “de-bearding” the mussels and making sure you don’t cook any of the dead ones. What you need to do is to soak the mussels in cool water for about half an hour (if it is too hot you will cook them, and won’t know good from bad). Then take them out one by one. If they are closed, then you rip off the “beard” which is a little mossy clump that hangs out the side of their mouth. If they are open, give them a tap (like knocking on wood) and if they close completely, rip the beard off. If they don’t, then toss them. Honestly, don’t even chance it.
Then you just pop them in a large pot with a bunch of things you think are yummy and let them steam for 4-5 minutes until they all open and look nice an orange.
Serve with bread if you want to soak up all the sauce, and serve with wine or beer ideally:
The great thing is, with mussels you can really do any sauce you want. Go for a tomato sauce, or chicken stock and then add some parmesan. You can do curry, soup, whatever. I like the simple and classic use of garlic, leeks and white wine. A lot of people add cream and use onion rather than leeks, but I really enjoy leeks with seafood. I even put a whole one in this time (see above).
I hope you enjoy it with family or friends.
Steamed Mussels with Leeks (Serves 2-4)
- 1kg bag of fresh mussels
- 2 large cloves garlic
- 1 shallot
- 3 baby leeks (plus one whole one if you want to toss that in too)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup buttery white wine (I used chardonnay)
Put the fresh mussels in a bowl of cool water for 30 minutes
To see which are safe to eat, tap on any that are open. If they do not close completely, discard.
De-beard the closed mussels by puling sharply on the mossy bit hanging from the mussel
Finely chop leeks, garlic and shallot.
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan heat oil to medium heat
Add garlic, shallot and leeks and soften for about 3 minutes
Add mussels and white wine, put a lid on the pot, and let steam for a further 4-5 minutes until mussels open and are orange.
Serve with bread and smiles 🙂