That little bit of extra work involved in preparing seafood is well worth the effort – especially with these classics As much as I look forward to the prospect of a bowl of steamed mussels, teasing the seafood from their precariously piled shells, I also like the idea of a recipe where the work has been done for me.
A handful of shelled mussels, each as plump and juicy as a dumpling, will add much deep, piscine flavour to a risotto, a clear broth or a vegetable stew. Shelling mussels sounds like a step too far. In reality, the task is simple, especially when you get into the rhythm of things, tugging out each scorching-hot parcel of seafood from its home. (Use an empty pair of conjoined shells as pincers if you like.) It is one of those curious kitchen jobs I start with trepidation and finish rather wishing that I hadn’t come to the end.
That little pile of hot mussels and their escaped juices will add a surprisingly deep flavour to a few tomatoes that have been diced finely and simmered with some chopped thyme and maybe a clove of garlic. I’m not sure they need onion or olive oil: just tomatoes, thyme and mussels. I did just that this week, a celebration of seafood, herbs and golden tomatoes. We ate it with rice, but some fat, floury potatoes would be good, too. You can use any carb, really – something with which to sponge up the juices from our plates.
I also bought a couple of squid. That’s twice this month, but what is a hungry shopper to do when a glistening cephalopod waves a come-hither tentacle at them from the fishmonger’s ice-strewn counter? I took them home, cut them into rings and grilled them until tinged with black and gold. We scattered them with orange zest, anchovy and fried breadcrumbs, then dipped them into deep bowls of golden garlic mayonnaise.
MUSSELS, TOMATOES AND THYME
Serves 2 mussels 600g tomatoes 500g garlic 1 large clove thyme leaves 2 tbsp sherry vinegar 4 tsp
Scrub the mussels under cold running water and tug away their beards. Tap each shell firmly on the side of the sink: the two shells should close immediately. Discard any that are cracked, chipped or wilfully refuse to close – they are past their best.
Put a large, deep saucepan over a moderately high heat, tip in the mussels, a splash of water or white wine if there is some open, and cover tightly with a lid. Let the mussels steam for 2 or 3 minutes, until their shells are open wide and there is
The hot mussels will add a deep flavour to the tomatoes