Mussels travel with their own built-in sauce base. They’re easy to steam and, when you do, they release a flavourful broth that many connoisseurs swear is the best part. That broth can be flavoured any way you want, so mussels are also a great ingredient to freestyle with.
5-6 pounds of mussels, rinsed well with cold running water
1 cup of any flavourful liquid
1 cup of any other flavourful ingredients
1-2 splashes of olive oil or a spoonful or so of butter
Wash the mussels very well and discard any that are open and won’t close with a bit of gentle finger pressure.
Pour the liquid and other aromatic ingredients of your choice into a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the mussels and cover with the lid. Shake the pot occasionally and cook until all the mussels have opened, 10 minutes or so. Discard any that haven’t opened.
Spoon out the mussels into a serving bowl. Strain the remaining liquid and serve over the mussels. There’s always a bit of broken shell or lingering sand in it.
1. Thai: coconut milk and a spoonful of Thai curry paste
2. Southwestern: salsa, cilantro and a splash of tequila
3. Mediterranean: tomato purée, minced garlic and capers
4. Italian: canned tomatoes, minced garlic and Basil Pesto
5. Greek: tomato juice, chopped olives, minced garlic, artichoke hearts, the zest and juice of 2 lemons, a spoonful of oregano and olive oil
6. French: white wine, Dijon mustard and butter
7. English: a can of Guinness beer and sliced onions
8. Apple: apple cider with a splash of apple cider vinegar
9. Japanese: a few spoonfuls of soy sauce, a splash of rice wine vinegar, a few drops of toasted sesame oil and sliced green onions
10. California: orange juice, orange marmalade, lemon juice and diced red bell pepper
This is one of the easiest ways to cook any type of fish. It’s also one of the tastiest, and fastest. Perhaps more than any other technique, this is how I choose to get fish on the table in a hurry. Whitefish is a generic term that refers to many different types of fish, all of them easy to find and cook.
From The Best of Chef at Home © Michael Smith, Whitecap 2009