Gremolata mussels


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Admittedly today was always going to be a me-day.  Solo run at the crack of dawn, got all my errands done, even bought myself a wonderful new recipe book!  Tres indulgent!  So it made sense that I’d get in the kitchen, clatter together a few pots and pans and share some yumminess with my BFFs.  Mussels seemed like a sensible choice seeing as though we are technically rocking an Autumn vibe.  I was thinking white wine – a good Chardonnay – parsley, garlic… and then it hit me.  I’m such a fan of Gremolata**, (actually fan doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings about the stuff) why not incorporate those flavours into some mussels?  I serve mine with thin slices of grilled ciabatta, but they go just as nicely with big chunks of warm bread to soak up all that saucy sauce!

This is how it goes… (serves 4)

1kg fresh mussels, scrubbed and beards removed

1/2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 cup good quality Chardonnay

1/2 tsp dried red chillies

1 fresh bay leaf

For the Gremolata**

1 handful fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

4 medium size fresh garlic cloves, smashed into a paste

2 anchovy fillets, smashed into a paste

1 tablespoon lemon zest, finely grated

1 tbsp olive oil

And then…

Heat your olive oil in a saucepan & get your onions sautéing.  You’re wanting them to sweat gently until they go translucent, so ensure your heat is fairly low.  Once the onions are soft turn up the heat, pour in the white wine and add the bay leaf & dried chillies.  Allow the wine to simmer or reduce down until you no longer smell a strong alcohol aroma.  This forms the basis of your steaming liquid and all these yummy flavours are going to have their way with those gorgeous mussels. They’ll never be the same!

Once your liquid has reduced, turn the heat up so that the wine starts boiling gently.  Toss in your mussels, put the lid on & give the pot a shake.  The mussels will take about 3-5 minutes to steam open, if you see any that are still firmly closed pick them out and throw them away*

Transfer the mussels and their scrummy juices to serving bowls.  Stir together all the ingredients for the Gremolata & spoon this liberally over the mussels.  Arm yourself with a loaf of bread, roll up your sleeves and dig in!  Don’t forget the bib!

* A tip on buying & selecting mussels: always buy from a reputable fish monger, never on the side of the road (that rule applies to most things in life!).  Red tide is a nasty occurrence of higher-than-normal levels of microscopic toxic algae in sea waters and is very dangerous if contaminated shellfish is ingested.  Make sure your mussels have shiny, unbroken shells.  Get them home as soon as you can and cover them in fresh water.  Scrub off all the beards and any barnacles, and discard any shells/mussels that have cracks in them.  If air gets inside your mussel, he’s going to die.  I don’t think I need to say that that is going to taste pretty wretched, non? If any of the mussels are already open, this means that they have kicked the bucket.  Above rules apply: discard immediately.

** Gremolata is traditionally served as an accompaniment to the Italian stew Osso Buco.  It’s fresh, zesty flavours add another dimension entirely to the rich, slow cooked tomato-based stew of veal shin.

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