Mus­sels un­der fire

The Press - Zest - - Eat -

The avail­abil­ity of cul­ti­vated mus­sels cer­tainly take a lot of the work out of putting this bi­valve on the menu. Shells are clean and there is usu­ally only a small, eas­ily re­moved wisp of beard to deal with. A quick tug in an up­ward di­rec­tion soon deals with that.

If you are not us­ing them im­me­di­ately, store the mus­sels in the fridge, cov­ered with a damp cloth to pre­vent them from dry­ing out.

As a rule, I al­low a kilo­gram of mus­sels for ev­ery two people – depend­ing on likely ap­petites. This is for a main course. Halve that for an en­tree-size of­fer­ing.


A recipe from my lo­cal fish­mon­ger in Mel­bourne. Steam mus­sels for about 8 min­utes in a large wide pan or wok then place in cold wa­ter to stop cook­ing. Open the mus­sels, dis­card­ing the top shell, and place on an oven tray in a sin­gle layer. Mix to­gether a cou­ple of ta­ble­spoons each of tomato sauce and Worces­ter­shire sauce with 100g melted but­ter. Top mus­sels with crispy pieces of ba­con, a lit­tle grated cheese and a tea­spoon of the above sauce and place un­der a 200C grill un­til the cheese melts. Serve im­me­di­ately.


Make this in a large deep pan or a wok with a lid. If you have a wok burner on your bar­be­cue, go for it.The dish needs lit­tle, if any salt, thanks to the brine in the shells and the an­chovies. 2kg fresh farmed mus­sels 1 Tbsp light olive oil 2 onions, sliced 6 cloves gar­lic, finely chopped 1⁄ red pep­per diced or sliced

2 4 large ripe toma­toes, diced 1 tsp chilli paste (you’ll find this in Asian food stores) 1⁄ cup dry white wine

2 Sev­eral an­chovies (pre­served in salt) Chopped basil for serv­ing Rinse the mus­sels and re­move any wisps of beard. Drain in a sieve or colan­der. Heat the oil and add the onions and gar­lic, turn­ing back the heat so the gar­lic doesn’t burn. When the onion is soft but not coloured, add the red pep­per and the toma­toes and chilli paste and turn the heat up a lit­tle and cook un­til the toma­toes meld into a sauce. Add the wine and an­chovies and sim­mer for a few min­utes un­til the sauce thick­ens. Add the mus­sels and com­bine with the sauce. Cover and turn up the heat and sim­mer un­til the mus­sel shells open. Gar­nish with the chopped pars­ley (or herbs of your own choos­ing) and serve in bowls with some of the sauce. Serves 4.

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