Mmmm….Nice Mussels!

This entry is filed under Editorial.

Oooh! What big mussels

Oooh! What big mussels

I had planned to give you one of my favorite vegetarian recipes today, but with Waitrose fish counter offering fresh Scottish mussels at only £2.99 per kilo until the 24th March, I’m putting it off until next week.

Instead I’ve opted for a simple moules mariniere so you can take full advantage of their stunningly good offer (they also sell 250ml bottles of cooking wine for 99p) which is great value and perfect for today’s recipe.

So top marks to Waitrose! Besides being the cheapest, their mussels were the plumpest and juiciest of all those tested (see image at bottom of post.)

In fact they were so outstandingly good, I suggest you hot foot it down to your nearest branch today as this offer isn’t on for long.

Once upon a time, mussels were cheap as chips, but these days you can expect to pay upwards of £4.00 a kilo, which provides enough for two steaming bowls of moules marinière, making it suitable for lunch or light supper.

If you’re on a tight budget or want a more substantial meal, you can stretch a kilo further, simply by bulking out the marinière with spaghetti. Doing this creates a sort of mussel vongole that tastes delicious and will have you salivating.

Most mussels are commercially cultivated so you can eat them pretty much any time of the year. However, Ben Hoggett, manager of Cirencester’s excellent wet fish shop New Wave, advises against mussels in warmer months when toxic organisms can pollute the water.

The good thing about cultivated mussels is they aren’t particularly gritty or caked in barnacles, which means you haven’t got hours of boring prep work – scrubbing and beard pulling – before reaping the benefits.

However, certain rules still apply. Only buy mussels with bright, tightly closed, unbroken shells, smelling sea-fresh and briny. If you’re not planning to eat them immediately, cover with a damp cloth, keep refrigerated and use within a day.

Mussels taste best lightly steamed in a simple wine broth making their turmeric coloured flesh puff up into plump, juicy, tender morsels.

Whatever you do, don’t overcook them – a few minutes is
all they need, otherwise their texture becomes tough and rubbery and in no way resembles a gourmet experience.

For an authentic, tasty, quick and easy moules marinière recipe see March recipe posts.

The nice thing about this dish is it’s wonderfully satisfying without your feeling stuffed.

Here is my shortcut version for this classic dish.  The secret ingredient is mascarpone, used here to effortlessly create a light creamy sauce.

This means there’s no faffing about making a beurre manie (where you knead flour and butter into little balls) and use to thicken the sauce. If you’re a confident cook, or time short, there’s just enough time to cook the spaghetti whilst shelling the mussels.

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One Response to “Mmmm….Nice Mussels!”

  1. It’s hard to come by well-informed cooks on the net but you certainly sound like you know what you’re talking about!


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