I’ve mentioned before that cooking with fish used to scare me, cooking with mussels even more so. Something about the word ‘beard’ and ‘remove with knife’ just didn’t sit right with me.
When I spotted a bag of gorgeous fresh Port Lincoln, South Australian mussels by Kinkawooka Shellfish recently at the markets that proclaimed to be ‘Scrubbed and cleaned for your convenience’ I just knew I had to have them! No bearding necessary!
I adore mussels, especially when it combines wine and garlic. One glass of wine for the pot, three for me.
Many moons ago in our pre baby travelling years, my husband and I went on a Mediterranean holiday that incorporated a 10 night cruise, all expenses included. Our first port of call was Dubrovnik, Croatia. I remember walking stunning streets in the old city and a sweet gentleman approached us asking if we’d like a bucket of mussels that were caught fresh that morning. Moules Marinière was the special of the day. My husband said something on the lines of ‘but we already have all our meals included on the ship’. Hmmm now I’m sure the grub on the cruise ship was excellent, but when in Europe, experience as much of it as possible and that includes eating at local restaurants. So we pulled up a seat, ate our body weight in mussels, drank lots of local wine and we had THE MOST INCREDIBLE MEAL EVER. I’ll never forget it, the scene was perfect, the mussels were drowning in garlic and I can still taste it if I close my eyes. The whole meal, for the two of us including wine, calamari, char grilled bread, dessert and coffee came in at around $20 Australian.
I’ve tried to recreate the flavours but it’ll never beat the Dubrovnik meal. Maybe it’s because the mussels weren’t picked that day. Maybe it’s because I don’t have the Mediterranean sea air floating through my kitchen or maybe it’s just an excuse so I can go back one day and eat their version again. My version is fabulous and mouth-watering, but the Dubrovnik meal was something else!
Mussels in white wine, garlic and butter sauce. Serves 2 as a main or 4 as entrée
- 1kg mussels, cleaned and bearded
- 4 -5 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 ½ glass white wine
- 5 tomatoes, diced
- Bunch of parsley, chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Bunch of basil, chopped (I used 3 ‘ice cubes’ of basil that I had pre chopped and frozen in ice cube trays)
Combine the minced garlic and butter in the largest pot you have, and sauté gently on medium until fragrant, for about a minute.
Add the diced tomatoes and stir for a further minute. Add wine and let it the alcohol boil away for about 3-4 minutes.
Add the mussels to the pot, give it all a shake and close the lid. Let the mussels steam away for a few minutes until they open. Don’t shake it too hard, you don’t want bits of broken shells in the liquid.
When the mussels open, turn off the heat and throw in the parsley and basil. Stir until wilted and remove from the heat. Discard any unopened mussels.
Serve with hot crusty bread as an entrée or with some plain boiled rice as a main.