Mus­sel power!

An­drew Jones de­bunks a shell­fish myth and of­fers up some tasty hacks

EDP Norfolk - - DIAL H FOR HACKS - the­di­al­house.org.uk farm­yardrestau­rant.com

There’s an old but still well - known say­ing which is that you should only eat shell­fish when there’s an ‘r’ in the month, that is be­tween Septem­ber and April, the cooler months of the year. But as my pal Thomas Long from Bran­caster Bay Shell­fish says, that ad­vice is a bit fishy.

He sup­plies mus­sels to me at Farm­yard and The Dial House and what he doesn’t know about bi­valve mol­luscs isn’t worth know­ing. He’s out there all weather and all sea­sons. Trust me – I’ve been with him wad­ing high in icy cold wa­ters. He doesn’t even wear gloves! Any­way, I di­gress... I love mus­sels. They’re so ver­sa­tile all year round. Here are my hacks to shell­fish suc­cess.

1Buy them from a good fish mon­ger. They will know where their mus­sels are from, they’ll prob­a­bly even know who caught them. As with all fish and shell­fish they should look and smell like they’ve just come out of the sea. They should feel heavy for their size, that means they are plump, well fed and will taste de­li­cious when cooked.

2Check the health mark. All shell­fish must be sold with a tag that tells you where and when they were har­vested. They should be pu­ri­fied for 42 hours af­ter har­vest­ing be­fore be­ing sold. If they are cov­ered in bar­na­cles and white ma­rine worm casts it won’t af­fect the flavour but it will mean you’re pay­ing for bar­na­cles not mus­sels.

3Give them a wash and pick them over just be­fore you cook them. Any that are asleep will shut when the wa­ter hits them; they will think the tide’s com­ing in. Any that don’t close up tightly or any with cracked shells should be thrown away

4Be brave with your flavour­ings. While the purists may just steam them open with white wine and pars­ley, mus­sels have a lot of per­son­al­ity and can take on big flavours. Try them cooked in ale or cider and they love smoky, fatty pork. As I write this, I’m dream­ing of mus­sels cooked with kiel­basa (a re­ally smoky Pol­ish sausage) beer and sauer­kraut! Cook them on a high heat with the lid on un­til they open. It takes two to three min­utes, no more.

5Once you’ve cooked your big bowl of de­li­cious lo­cal mus­sels, if there are one or two that haven’t opened pick them out and throw them away.

I asked Thomas what his favourite way to cook mus­sels is and it’s right up my street. En­joy! ½ thumb size piece ginger ½ thumb size piece galan­gal 1 bunch co­rian­der

1 tin co­conut milk Juice of a lime

Wash and pick over the mus­sels.

Cut the leaves off the co­rian­der and re­serve.

Blitz the shal­lot, chilli, lime leaf, le­mon­grass, gar­lic, ginger, galan­gal and co­rian­der stalks to a paste.

Fry the paste in a lit­tle oil in a pan large enough to hold the mus­sels, for a minute, just long enough to cook out the raw­ness.

Add the mus­sels and co­conut milk, cover with a lid and steam on a high heat for 2-3 min­utes or un­til all the mus­sels have opened.

Fin­ish with roughly chopped co­rian­der and a squeeze of lime juice.

Serve with a cold beer.

ABOVE:Bran­caster mus­sels, smoked ba­con and cider cream at the Dial House

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