Mussel Recipe # 2 May 27, 2009

Filed under: Meals — sotsil @ 9:13 am
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I’m feeling ambivalent about this mussel recipe which is called Mussels Provençal.  Where’s the white wine, I asked myself, when I went through the ingredient list that Loblaws provided. 

I have a sneaky suspicion that Mussels Provençal is one of those recipes that have been tweaked many times by chefs the world over, and innovated upon by homemakers.  Hence no one can claim that there is one and only one way to make Mussels Provençal.

This Loblaws recipe is fairly easy, and judging from the ingredient list, you need not search far and wide, because the ingredients are probably in your cupboard anyway!


2 bags Blue Mussels

250 ml clam juice

4 cloves garlic, shopped

4 shallots (green onions or scallions)

2 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced roughly

2 fennel seeds

2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

12 black olives, pitted and chopped

150 ml cooking cream, 15% m.f. (optional)


1.  Wash mussels thoroughly with cold, running water.  Place them in a large saucepan with the clam juice, garlic, shallots, tomatoes and fennel seeds (you can also use star anise).

2.  Cover and cook over high heat for about 3 minutes.  At midpoint, stir well to make sure mussels open well.  Continue to cook for 3 minutes longer.  Remove mussels from the pot.  Set aside.

3.  Bring cooking broth to a boil then add the herbs, olives, cream (if using) and continue cooking for 4-5 minutes.  Mix well and drizzle mussels with prepared sauce.  Serve on warm plates.

Note:  to add an extra touch of Provençal flavor, add 1 tbsp of black olive tapenade to broth in step 3.

Now, I happen to stumble upon this youtube video about how to cook Mussel Provençal by Jean-Pierre, a French chef.  He uses white wine, and mentions nothing about olives.  He says don’t buy cheap wine to make this recipe.  Invest in a good bottle of wine so that when the mussels absorb the wine, you get that added bonus of taste.

I strongly encourage you to watch the video.  Jean-Pierre is not only a chef, he’s a real entertainer!

If you’ll notice, his recipe does not have many ingredients either and there’s nothing complicated with his method.  His only requirement is that you don’t skimp on that wine.



Mussel Recipe # 1 May 25, 2009

Filed under: Meals — sotsil @ 9:52 am
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mussels6 Rich in selenium, zinc, folic acid and B12 vitamins, mussels are a personal favorite.  Last Saturday, I went to the supermarket’s seafood section and saw a huge crowd milling about.  “Don’t tell me they’ve raided the mussel bin already,” I mused. 

Upon closer look, I was relieved.  They were stuffing their plastic bags with live lobsters, plucking the creatures from six or seven large crates filled to the brim.

I approached the counter and asked if they had any mussels left.  “Lobsters?”  The young man asked.

I shook my head, “No, mussels.”  He gave me a funny look.  Here was an unruly crowd getting excited over lobsters and I’m asking for mussels.

“Over here.” The sales clerk pointed to an area behind him.  I spotted two lonely bags and I almost changed my mind.  I was worried that they had been there for some time, but the tag had an expiry date of about 3-4 days more so I grabbed one bag and headed for the cash.  I could almost taste the mussel broth that I enjoyed as a child back home.

Mulling Mussels

Fact # 1:  Mussels must be cooked upon purchase.  They will hold in the fridge for up to a week, but I would not wait that long.  I cook them the next day, at the very latest.

Fact # 2:  Most of the mussels we buy from seafood places are usually farmed, as opposed to wild but they will still smell “like the ocean”, as some writers put it.

Fact # 3:  Mussels have a “beard” sticking out of the shell.  This should be pulled out.  They must be rinsed in cold water, at least three or four times.  A good brushing is also recommended.

Fact # 4:  People steam their mussels to open them.  After that, they add their wine or make a sauce.

My favorite mussel recipe follows.  It’s a very basic recipe.  I don’t steam them; instead I add about 6 cups of water to make broth.  The taste is tangy and gingery.


1 bag of mussels -about 2-3 pounds – (make sure they are tightly closed when you buy them).

4 tbsp onions, chopped  

2-3 tbsp ginger, cut into thin julienne stripsmussels(a)

1-1/2 tbsp crushed garlic

5 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable)

6 cups of water

salt and pepper to taste



  1. Wash mussels thoroughly with cold water.  Remove the “beard.”  Give mussels a good brushing.
  2. Chop your onions, crush your garlic and cut ginger into thin strips.
  3. Heat oil for 2 minutes.  Put ginger, onions and garlic and sauté for about 3-4 minutes.  Lower heat if garlic begins to burn.
  4. Pour 6 cups water.  Allow to boil.  second set
  5. Add your mussels and cover pot.  Lower heat and let the mussels simmer (about 15-20 minutes).
  6. Open pot and inspect mussels.  They should be open by now.  Orange-colored flesh indicates mussel is female; a whiter tinge, male.
  7. Serve in a soup bowl.  You can garnish with parsley, but this isn’t necessary.

In my next blog, I’ll post mussel recipe # 2 –  Mussels Provencal.