Thursday, August 27, 2009

#7: Mussels with Soy Sauce, Ginger, Scallions, Garlic and Jalapeno

I really need to come up with better names for these recipes. Anyway, after a week and a half, I finally got around to cooking some more mussels. I wanted to go with an Asian theme this time. In the past, I have very much enjoyed marinating tuna in soy sauce, white wine, garlic, scallions, ginger and jalapenos. When used in subtle proportions, these tasty ingredients add a ton of flavor to seafood without overwhelming it. It seemed inappropriate to serve the mussels with bread, so I made some plain jasmine rice to soak up all of the mussels' delicious juices. To round out the meal, I made a cold salad consisting of strips of cucumber tossed with ginger-key lime vinegar, sesame seeds, salt and a small amount of soy sauce. I drank a nice cold glass of ginger ale with this meal, but a nice medium-dry Riesling would have been better.

2 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
6 Scallions, sliced thin
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tbsp. grated Ginger
1 Jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1/2 cup Dry white wine
1 tsp. Fish sauce
1 cup Water
1 tbsp. Peanut oil
1/2 tsp. Salt

1) Heat peanut oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2) When the oil is hot, add scallions, ginger, garlic and jalapeno. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

3) At wine, soy sauce and fish sauce. Simmer for 2 minutes.

4) Add water. When water begins to simmer, add mussels. Cover and steam for 6 minutes.

Serve with rice and cucumber salad.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


It's been far too long, but I promise that a new recipe will be posted tomorrow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

#6: Mussels with Butter, Garlic, Lemon and Paprika

After formulating recipes involving pancetta and deep-frying, I wanted to make something lighter. Garlic seemed like a good ingredient to build a recipe around, and what better to accompany it than a half-stick of butter? I drew on two culinary experiences to create this simple recipe. The first was a trip that my family took to Kribi, a beach town in Cameroon. I recall sharing a huge platter of shrimp with my family, and if I remember correctly, they were doused in oil, butter, paprika (or something close to it) and enormous amounts of garlic. Getting my fingers covered with oily garlicky goodness was a lot of fun.

But what about this recipe being on the lighter side? I had already decided to use a large amount of butter and I was certainly not going to change my mind. So something had to be done to freshen the dish up a little. This brought me to the second memory that played a role in this recipe, making a nice gremolata to top off some awesomely rich osso bucco alla milanese. This traditional Italian garnish went a long way to balance out the extreme richness of the meat. Incorporating the ingredients of the gremolata into this mussel dish helped to keep it, at least superficially, light and fresh. Because of the fresh, citrusy nature of this dish, I chose to pair it with a Belgian-style witbier. Ommegang Witte was a very good match. Without further ado:

4 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
12-16 cloves Garlic, minced
Zest of 2 medium lemons
Juice of aforementioned lemons
4 tbsp. Butter
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 cup Parsley, chopped
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Salt
Black Pepper
3/4 cup Dry white wine

1) Melt butter with oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2) Add garlic and lemon zest. Saute 2 minutes

3) Add 1/2 cup parsley, salt, paprika, and a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper. Cook 2 minutes.

4) Turn heat up to high. Add lemon juice and white wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes

5) Add mussels, cover pot, and steam for 6 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and lemon slices. Serve with hearty bread and a Belgian wit.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wanted Alive: Some Mussels

I was going to go ahead and cook the butter, garlic, lemon and paprika mussels that are most likely going to win the previously-posted poll. Unfortunately, after spending the better part of the day brewing my fall seasonal "Reaper's Breath Dunkelcrunkelweizen," buying mussels at the Italian Market was not an option. Normally Whole Foods has mussels, but at 7:00pm they had already sold out. I guess mussel fever is sweeping the nation. Superfresh's seafood counter had already closed, so there will be no mussels today. It's rough trying to keep myself up to my elbows in beer and mussels, and sometimes it doesn't work out. But I'll get back on my mussel horse, and a recipe will be posted before the end of the weekend. And if it's not, I'll come back and change this post to look like I never said that it would be.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

#5: Fried Mussel Po' Boys with Spicy Aioli

I wanted to change things up a little, so for my fifth recipe, I decided to try something aside from simply steaming the mussels. Like any sane person, I love fried stuff, so I thought I would make mussel po' boys. I used Mario Batali's recipe for cozze frite as a rough guide for deep frying the mussels (it was the first result listed for my Google search), and the Joy of Cooking's aioli recipe as the basis for my slightly spicy aioli. Here is an approximation of what I actually did:

2 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 cup All-purpose flour
2 Eggs
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 cups Olive Oil
1 loaf Soft french bread
6 leaves Romaine lettuce
2-3 Scallions, sliced into thin rings
1 Lemon
1 cup Spicy aioli (recipe below)

1) Steam mussels in 2 cups of water in a large pot on high heat just long enough for them to open (2-3 minutes).

2) Strain the mussels and use a fork to remove their meat. Avoid using your fingers to do this, as it can crush the meat.

3) Beat the eggs in a bowl, and combine the flour and salt in another bowl.

4) Heat the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until the oil just begins to smoke. Turn the heat down to medium.

5) Dredge the mussels in flour, and then wash them in eggs. Try to let any excess egg run off to avoid having the mussels clump together.

6) Gently drop the mussels in the hot oil. Cook until golden brown. Remove with a slotted or mesh spoon to a plate covered in paper towels.

7) Cut bread into 8 inch portions and slice down one side. Lay 1-2 leaves of lettuce at the bottom of the sandwich. Spread the top liberally with aioli. Pile on the mussels and sprinkle with lemon juice and scallions.

Spicy Aioli Recipe:

2 Egg yolks
6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Olive oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Ancho chili powder (not spicy)
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. Cold water
1 tsp. Lemon juice

1) Whisk together egg yolks, garlic, salt, and spices in a large bowl.

2) While continuously whisking vigorously, very slowly add olive oil. After 5-10 minutes of excruciatingly slow drizzling of olive oil and intense whisking, the aioli should thicken.

3) Whisk in cold water and lemon juice.

I very much enjoyed drinking a Jever Pilsener with my po' boy. Jever is a particularly hoppy North German pilsener. Its bitterness helped to accentuate the sweetness of the mussels.

Welcome to MusselBlog


My name is Ben. I currently live in Philadelphia, PA. Living in Philly has greatly increased my appreciation for nature's most affordable bivalve, the mussel. Two of my favorite restaurants, Monk's Cafe and Zot, serve Belgian-style mussels in a variety of delicious ways. While I was originally lured to these establishments by beer, I came away with a new appreciation for my new mollusc friends. I discovered that I could purchase them fresh at Philly's phenomenal Italian Market for about $2 per pound. When my friend Steve learned of the availability of fresh and reasonably priced mussels at the market (which is only three blocks from my house), he challenged me to cook mussels 50 different ways in the next year.

While I did agree to this challenge, I honestly did not take it very seriously at first. After all, Steve did not offer me any kind of reward. What's up with that, Steve? But I had so much fun cooking the first few recipes that I decided to start this blog and let the rest of the world in on my quest. I think of myself as a good cook, but not an amazing one. I will be coming up with some of these mussel recipes entirely on my own, and some will come directly from recipes written by others or from restaurant menus. I will try to cite recipes, restaurants and people that have influenced my creations, although I often just read a dozen random recipes for any given sauce or dish and make up my own variation as I go along. Anyway, I hope that this blog will provide inspiration to somebody out there.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

#4: Mussels with Pancetta, Leeks and Feta

3 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 large Leeks, chopped
1/3 lb. Pancetta, diced
1/2 lb. Bulgarian feta, crumbled well (drier feta works better in this dish).
1 cup chopped Parsley
1 cup Dry white wine
1 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tbsp. Butter

1) Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.

2) Add pancetta and cook 5-8 minutes or until crisp.

3) Remove pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add butter.

4) Once butter is hot, add leeks. Saute 8 minutes.

5) Add 1/2 cup parsley, pancetta and wine. Simmer 2 minutes.

6) Increase to high heat. Add mussels, cover, and steam for 8 minutes.

7) Add feta and parsley. Stir several times, then serve.

#3: Mussels with Hefeweizen Curry Sauce (August 1, 2009)

5 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded.
12 oz. Hefeweizen (I used Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, which is a fairly traditional hefe)
14 oz. Light coconut milk
1 tbsp. Yellow curry powder
10 Scallions, sliced thin
1/2 tsp. Ginger powder
1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped Basil (I used sweet basil, but Thai basil would be ideal)
1 tbsp. Peanut oil

1) Heat peanut oil in large pot over medium to medium-high heat.

2) Add scallions and saute 5 minutes.

3) Add curry powder, ginger, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Cook 3 more minutes

4) Add coconut milk and hefeweizen. Simmer 5 minutes.

5) Increase to high heat. Add mussels, cover, and steam for 8 minutes.

6) Stir in basil.

Serve with bread and hefeweizen.

#2: Mussels with Spicy Tomato-Saffron Sauce (July 24, 2009)

5 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
3 lbs. Tomatoes
1 Long red chili pepper, fine dice
2 Shallots, minced
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cups Chopped parsley
1 cup White wine
1 hearty pinch of Saffron
1 tbsp Olive oil

1) Blanch tomatoes for 1 minute in boiling water. Rinse with cold water and peel. Chop tomatoes thoroughly. Reserve juice in a separate bowl.

2) Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

3) Add shallots and chili. Cook 5 minutes

4) Add garlic. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

5) Add tomatoes without juice along with 1/2 cup parsley. Simmer 5 minutes.

6) Add white wine, tomato juice and saffron. Simmer 6-8 minutes.

7) Increase to high heat. Add mussels, cover, and steam for 8 minutes.

8) Add 1/2 cup parsley and stir several times, then serve.

#1: Mussels with White Wine and Shallots (July 17, 2009)

5 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
4 Shallots, minced
2 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 cups Chopped parsley
1.5 cups Dry White wine

1) Heat butter and oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.

2) Add shallots and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add salt to taste.

3) Add 1/2 cup parsley and 1 cups white wine. Simmer for 2 minutes.

4) Increase to high heat. Add mussels and 1/2 cup wine. Cover and allow to steam for 8 minutes.

5) Add 1/2 cup parsley and stir several times.

Serve with hearty bread.