On Thursday, we popped into Dittisham, along the river Dart. We had a walk along the jetty and noticed the mussels in the shallow water there. A place where boats are being prepared is probably not the best place to pick up mussels, so we took a drive into Brixham.
It was almost closing time when Tim talked to a fishmonger there, and he grabbed the last bag of mussels going, so they were perhaps a little smaller than the rest. Tim was worried they might not be the best possible, but flavour wise they turned out to be fantastic.
In hushed tones, the fishmonger told us (well, told Tim, while I ear-wigged from the side) about some of the London people he sent his wares too, by overnight post. One of them being a famous rock star known for her muscles. Which amused me.
Anyway, Tim wanted a really rich creamy, naughty sauce to accompany the sexy silkyness of these little molluscs, with a tad of chilli for a kick. We both love coriander, but if you don’t, swap in some parsley. Apparently, the love of coriander is genetic, and you either really, really love it or can’t abide it. There’s even a website for people who who hate coriander, called ihatecilantro. Which makes me think of the bizarre website for people who hate the font Comic Sans. Have to say, I’m not mad about Comic Sans. Wonder if that’s genetic?
Back to the food. Here’s the recipe.
Ingredients, for two.
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1/2 fleshy red chilli pepper, finely chopped
20g unsalted butter
1 small glass sauvignon blanc or similar dry white
150g clotted cream
a handful of coriander or parsley if preferred, chopped
juice 1/2 lemon
salt and black pepper to season
Crusty bread, rubbed with garlic to serve.
Wash the mussels under plenty of cold, running water. The most important thing is to discard any open mussels that won’t close when lightly tapped, as they are dead.
Then pull out any fibrous beards sticking out from between the closed shells. Knock off any barnacles with a knife. Give the mussels another rinse.
Soften the chopped shallot in the butter and splash of olive oil in a large pan big enough to take all the mussels. The pan should take all the mussels and be only half full.
Add the mussels, wine, salt and black pepper and crank up the heat, to evaporate the alcohol for about 20 secs. Add the cream, and steam the mussels in their own juices for 3-4 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then. Add in the coriander or parsley, and remove from the heat.
Spoon into large warmed bowls and serve with crusty, garlicky bread.