Thursday, September 24, 2009

#9: Mussels with Shrimp and Salsa Verde

I should have learned my lesson after the SuperFresh debacle, but I did not. I thought that I could trust Whole Foods a little more than SuperFresh, as least where mussels are concerned. I suppose I was correct, in that Whole Foods sold me a bag of mussels that were only 82% dead, as opposed to SuperFresh's perfect score. Fortunately, I also purchased a pound of shrimp to round out the meal. Only ending up with 9 live mussels, I had to stage the photograph shown above to show the proportions I had intended (and to make the mussels feel like they were still the star of the show). I find it very disappointing that businesses are willing to sell spoiled shellfish like this, particularly in that it shows a lack of concern for their customer's health. But I didn't take on this project to bitch about big grocery store chains.
Sometimes I like to make dishes with a ton of green ingredients, and this turned out to be one of those. Tomatillos, poblanos, jalapenos, limes and peas all ended up on my plate. Along with the pink shrimp and black mussels, it made for a nice presentation. While the jalapeno that I included in the salsa did not end up being particularly spicy, I went with a relatively sweet beverage to help with the heat. Terrapin Beer Company's Gamma Ray wheat wine was a pretty good pairing. Gamma Ray is a very big beer at 11% abv. However, it's as smooth as the large amount of honey that it's made with, and one of the best wheat wines I've had. I was only introduced to Terrapin's beers recently, but they're quite good. I served the mussels and shrimp over saffron rice with peas (the saffron did not seem to provide the same amount of color and flavor that it usually does, so I'm not going to bother to post the recipe for the rice).

2 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 lb. Large shrimp
2 cups Salsa verde
1/2 cup Cilantro, chopped

1) Heat salsa in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. When salsa begins to simmer, add mussels and shrimp and cover. Cook for 5 minutes.

2) Stir in chopped cilantro.

Serve over saffron rice with peas.

For Salsa Verde:

2 lbs. Tomatillos (husk removed)
2 Poblanos
1 Jalapeno
1 small White onion, peeled
5 cloves Garlic, peeled
1/2 cup Cilantro
Juice of one lime

1) Preheat broiler.

2) Place tomatillos, poblanos, and jalapeno on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Roast under broiler for 4-5 minutes. Turn fruit over with tongs, and broil for another 3-4 minutes or until desired degree of roasting is achieved.

3) Place fruit in a bowl full of cold water. After a few minutes, remove the skin and stems.

4) Place all ingredients in a blender and puree. Add salt to taste.

I really liked this dish, and I will be using this salsa recipe again in the near future. I'll also try to post a new recipe soon, as I seem to be lagging a little behind schedule. So check back frequently. Cheers!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

#8: Mussels with a Mustard Tarragon Cream Sauce

Things don't always work out as we have imagined they will. All but the most tenacious and lucky of us have dreams that will never be realized. I have had dreams, mussel dreams, that have crumbled apart like so many rotten castles made of sand, eroded by the sea. But sometimes things work out really well, like my recipe for mussels with a mustard tarragon cream sauce.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was able to get me some of that good round crusty bread from Sarcone's. I was planning on drinking a dry white wine with this dish, but things did not work out as I had planned. The only exciting beverage on hand was a large bottle of Meantime London Porter. One might not expect a porter to go well with shellfish, but it actually worked out nicely. Oysters and stouts are a traditional pairing, so why not mussels and porters? The Meantime London Porter is a good porter. It is rich in roasty, nutty flavor with a creamy body that has just the right weight to it. It did not overpower the mussels, and made for a nice combination of flavors with the mustard and tarragon.
It's been too long since I've posted a recipe, so I'll go ahead and do it right now:

4 lbs. Mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 Shallots, minced
3 cloves Garlic, minced
3 tbsp. Dijon Mustard
2 tsp. Dry Mustard
12 springs Fresh Tarragon, chopped fine
1 cup Dry White Wine
1/2 pint Heavy Cream
2 tbsp. Olive Oil

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

2) Add shallots and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.

3) Add dry mustard and stir well. Saute 2 minutes

4) Add wine and dijon mustard. Stir well to incorporate the mustard into the wine. Increase heat to high, and let wine cook off for 2-3 minutes.

5) Add half of the tarragon and all of the cream. Bring to a simmer.

6) Add mussels and cover pot. Steam for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

7) Stir in the remaining tarragon and serve immediately with delicious crusty bread.

Friday, September 11, 2009

God Bless the Italian Market

I love Philadelphia's Italian Market. It is one of my favorite places in the world. As our weekends started today, Tiana and I were able to make it over to the market by 1:00pm. Generally this would already be too late to take full advantage of the market's offerings. However, it's raining today, and the streets are pretty empty. I was able to get a loaf of Sarcone's round, crusty bread. This bread is fantastic, and I've only made it to the bakery in time to get it on one other occasion. We hit up Claudio's to pick up some Pecorino Toscano, Parmagiana Regiano and Petit Basque. The next and most relevant stop was at Darigo's, my seafood vendor of choice. Darigo's clearly puts plenty of effort into keeping their seafood clean and well organized. They also have fantastic prices. Unlike the mussels I purchased from SuperFresh, these new mussels do not smell like death. No, they smell like the sea. As they should. And I will cook them soon.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I am a failure. I thought that maybe by starting this blog, I could trick people who don't already know me into thinking that I am not a failure, but I am a failure, and I have failed. After getting off work at 7:00pm, I took the #23 down from Temple University to South Street. My two options for mussel-purchasing were SuperFresh and Whole Foods. I prefer to shop at SuperFresh in general, as SuperFresh is owned by some guy who I don't know anything about, while Whole Foods is owned by some crazy libertarian anti-union asshole. Also, SuperFresh tends to be cheaper. Politics aside, I would rather purchase my mussels from Whole Foods, as they do put more effort into handling their perishable goods.
The friendly seafood guy at Whole Foods explained to me that this is the worst time of the year for mussels, and that they hadn't gotten any in in a few days. I then headed to SuperFresh, where the friendly seafood guy offered to check in back to see if they had any more mussels. Maybe I should have been a little suspicious at that point. Or when he gave me the mussels in a more or less airtight package. I paid for them, took them home, and opened up the packaging. It smelled horrible, and most of the mussels were open. Prodding them and squeezing them did not cause them to move at all. Steve, the man who first issued the mussel challenge to me and has since become my most dedicated de-bearding assistant, agreed that we were fucked. No mussels for us tonight. I still have my fresh tarragon and my heavy cream and my mustard, but I don't think I'll be able to use them before Friday. My apologies. Now I am going to post a picture to sum up my feelings about this incident. It was taken at the Beijing Zoo. I feel like the bears in this picture. They are sad because they live in a concrete pit and are surrounded by trash that people throw at them.

I lied

When I said that I would post today, I really meant that I would cook something today. I will post tomorrow, unless all the grocery stores near my apartment are sold out of mussels again.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Recipe Tomorrow!

I've been getting lazy again when it comes to Musselblog. I've been brewing a lot of beer and haven't had much time to make mussels. But in the past couple of days, I've been fiending for them. Look for a post tomorrow. Something with mustard and cream, most likely.