Warm up those mussels
RICHARD HUGHES has a gorgeous recipe for our marvellous local molluscs
THE COLDER it gets, the better the mussels. Unlike their more illustrious North Norfolk crustacean counterparts, our local mussels are at their very best when the weather turns.
Often seen as the poor relation of the sea, these are my most favourite things to be harvested from our coastline.
While the connoisseurs lust after local lobsters, crabs and the occasional esteemed oyster, there’s something quite humbling and satisfying about a steaming bowl of the gorgeous blue black molluscs. They are relatively inexpensive, the ultimate in fast food and, when eaten straight from the pot, absolutely delicious.
Lobsters and oysters haven’t always been deemed as luxury items. Most people know that oysters were the original ‘food of the poor,’ being in such plentiful supply before the horrors of polluted water that they were hawked around the East End for 12 a penny. Not so common knowledge is that lobsters where once regarded as ‘insects of the sea’, used as fertiliser in some coastal towns of America, and it is written into many states’ prison constitutions that the prisoner will not be served lobster more than three times a week, such was the disdain and boredom with the ingredient!
Let’s try and give the poor old mussel a boost. As a nod to a little luxury, we’ve added a smidgeon of Dr Sally Francis’ Norfolk-harvested saffron, to make a beautiful dish that’s at home for either a warming lunch or a dinner party.
It elevates the mussel with a pinch of sophistication, but you can add bacon, curry spice, cider, beer; whatever takes your fancy. They are, of course, just as tasty completely unadulterated.
Here’s a warming dish to combat those North Norfolk chills!