Warm up those mus­sels

RICHARD HUGHES has a gor­geous recipe for our mar­vel­lous lo­cal mol­luscs

EDP Norfolk - - Step-By-Step -

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!

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