There really is nothing like fresh Mussels. Sadly, we can usually only by them frozen in these parts so when our local stores do have a supply of the fresh article on hand, my signature Steamed Mussels always follows.
I never follow a precise recipe when I steam mussels… each version is just slightly different than the one before… but, essentially, I steam them whole in butter, garlic, onion, white wine and parsley. I also occasionally add lemon zest, or even chopped tomato to the blend. Basically, my dish is pretty much a version of the famous ‘Moules Mariniere ’, and goes great with crusty bread to sop up the delicious broth that is created by the steaming process… Continue reading “Steamed Mussels”
I probably wouldn’t normally feature something so plain and simple in a ‘Notable Nosh’ posting, but this method of serving mussels was so delicious it left me smacking my forehead for never having thought of serving them this way myself.
When I saw ‘Mussel Sashimi’ on the menu at Ken’s Japanese Restaurant in Ottawa, I assumed that I would be getting raw shellfish. However, although sashimi does generally involve uncooked fish, a few items (notably octopus, for one) are first cooked before being served cold. Mussels could easily be enjoyed raw, of course, but serving them this way, as a cooked, cold appetizer was a bit of a revelation to me.
I am not sure how Ken’s prepared these but my first guess would be that they were very quickly steamed. Whatever seasoning was included in the steaming liquid was very light and about all I can suggest was that there may have been a dash of rice wine added to help infuse the delicate meat with just a touch of additional sweetness. Surprisingly, there was no ‘liquor’ on the shells beneath the flesh, but the mussels were delightfully plump and extremely succulent. I am not sure, but it is also possible that the mussels may even have been poached in a subtly flavored liquid and then left to marinate in the same for a time before serving.
In any event, although I love mussels and steam them regularly, I have yet to serve them cold and this little appetizer I tried has inspired me to play around with the basic theme. I may be stuck with using cooked, frozen mussels at first as the fresh article only shows up here a few times a year, but that will be interesting too. The main challenge will be to avoid getting too heavy-handed with seasonings as subtlety is definitely the key here, but I am already thinking of some Asian and Mediterranean twists on the idea. Posts will be forthcoming…
Steaming Oysters with a sauce made from Salted Black Beans is a favorite Cantonese preparation, and one I have enjoyed many times. Unfortunately, fresh oysters are just about impossible to come by in this part of the world and so, for this experiment, I am going to improvise using some lovely New Zealand Mussels I happen to have in my freezer. The variety, somewhat erroneously sold as ‘Kiwi Clams’, is the same type I used (and photographed) for my Bouillabaisse experiment over the Christmas holidays and they should work very nicely with the rich, umami flavor of black beans paired with garlic and chili… Continue reading “Mussels Steamed with Black Beans”
I’ve been meaning to feature this product for sometime now but my current package has been languishing in the freezer for ages waiting for the right meal. For a long time, I was using another very similar frozen seafood mixture made by a different company (whose name I can’t now recall) and I was originally going to feature that one in a ‘Foodstuffs’ post but didn’t get around to it. That brand was pretty good but the Aquastar version is actually much better…. Continue reading “Foodstuff: Seafood Medley – Aquastar Brand”
Thanksgiving (the Canadian edition) will have come and gone by the time this gets posted but, this year, I decided to forego the rack of lamb we usually have and make a Cioppino. For those unfamiliar with the dish, this is an Italian-American seafood stew (or soup, if you prefer) created in San Franciso in the 1800’s. It combines shellfish and sometimes (but not always) fish in a rich broth containing wine and tomatoes. Regular readers of my blog may recall the review I did of the Fish Market Restaurant in Ottawa where I had a dish that they called Bouillabaisse which, while very good, was really much more of a Cioppino. I have had a hankering to cook the dish ever since then and (some months later) I finally managed to get around to it… Continue reading “Cioppino”
Paella, for those unfamiliar with the name, is a Spanish dish, chiefly associated with Valencia that many regard as being *the* Spanish national dish. It is a rice dish, where the rice is (usually) cooked with saffron and other ingredients. The most traditional contains rabbit and snails but there are many, many variations on the basic theme and seafood Paellas, particularly those with chicken added, seem to be the most popular. A Paella is cooked in a special pan also known as a paella, or paellera. I have three and the one pictured above is my largest at about 18 inches across. Some pans are truly immense and can extend up to several feet in diameter. Continue reading “Experiment: Paella with Seafood and Chicken”